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Puerto Rico rallies in eighth to eliminate Italy from WBC

Mar 13, 2013, 10:55 PM EDT

Puerto Rico's Giancarlo Alvarado pitches against Italy in the 1st inning of a 2013 World Baseball Classic game at Marlins Stadium in Miami Reuters

Puerto Rico scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to beat Italy 4-3 and keep its World Baseball Classic hopes alive on Wednesday night.

Italy was eliminated after losing its second straight game.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo put Italy on the board in the fifth, delivering a bases-loaded double that plated three runs. That was all the offense could muster, though, and it proved to be insufficient after poor defense led to a run in the sixth and an awful managing decision and some additional lousy glovework opened the door for a rally in the eighth.

Puerto Rico had its big guns due up in the eighth, with Carlos Beltran being followed by Yadier Molina, Mike Aviles and Alex Rios. The obvious decision should have been to go to Jason Grilli, Italy’s one major league pitcher, with the hopes that Brian Sweeney or someone else could have handled the lesser lights in the ninth.

Instead, Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez decided to save Grilli for the ninth. Chris Cooper, who had pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, stayed in to face Beltran, walked him on four pitches and was pulled. Nick Pugilese then gave up a hit to Molina. Sweeney came in and retired one of the two batters he faced. Finally, Pat Venditte came in and surrendered the lead. With no ninth-inning rally forthcoming, Italy lost without ever using its best pitcher.

Puerto Rico will now face the loser of Thursday’s U.S.-Dominican Republic matchup. The winner of both games will clinch spots in the semifinals.

  1. indaburg - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:15 PM

    I was so frustrated watching that 8th inning. I could not believe that Grilli, Italy’s best reliever, was sitting in the bullpen in the 8th when PR had their best hitters coming up. I do not understand why managers think the 9th inning is so magical. Use your best guy when you need him, or else you’re saving him for a moment that will never come. That previous sentence sounds like some Hallmark card for managers.

    Ah, well. It was a good run for the Italians.

    • Chris Fiorentino - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:49 AM

      Terrible fundamentals from Italy in that 8th inning. Between the OF throwing it home and letting the tying run get to second…then the SS throws it to first when the play was to easily get Rios at home. I mean…Rios would have been the clear goat of the game had the SS simply taken his time and thrown the ball home. Not saying Italy would have won, but the score would have remained tied. Rios would have been out by a mile. And he never stops at third to see where the SS went with the ball so there was no way he would have known. As slow as it was hit there was no way the SS was getting the runner at first. Everywhere you read, it’s “Rios alertly never stopped running” I totally disagree and think he got lucky.

      • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM

        Yeah, that was some boneheaded defense by the Italians in the 8th.

  2. hcf95688 - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    “Ah, well. It was a good run for the Italians”

    There were actual Italians playing?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:18 AM

      Alex Liddi and, uh, err…

    • cktai - Mar 14, 2013 at 3:51 AM

      In the game against Puerto Rico they had third baseman Alex Liddi, right fielder Mario Chiarini, left fielder Lorenzo Avagnina, en starter Alex Maestri who were born in Italy. In the rest of the roster they have Alessandro Vaglio, Stefano de Simoni and Luca Panerati.

      Justin Cicatello, Nick Pugliese, Anthony Granato, and Jack Santora are Italian Americans who have moved to Italy to play in their baseball league.

      Chris Cooper (USA), Tiago da Silva (Brazil), and Juan Infante (Venezuela) have qualified on the basis of long residency in Italy while playing in the Italian Baseball League.

      the other 14 have Italian American/Canadian.

    • unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 5:38 AM

      All you really need to qualify for the Italian team is to know where to buy a decent Italian dinner.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:32 AM

        Shouldn’t you be busy planning an ALEC Conference or something?

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:14 AM

        I am no fan of the Koch-suc…. I mean brothers, which is the ALEC you refer to I presume?

        My gravatar is simply a protest against your misanthropic glee about … oh heck, I’ll change it.

    • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 7:00 AM

      There were 8 Italy-born Italians. The rest, as cktai stated, were either of Italian heritage born in the US or Canada or had strong ties to Italy.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:12 AM

        Or lived within ten miles of an Olive Garden.

        I joke because I love my Italian friends. Actually the WBC makes the rules for eligibility, and they are very loose.

      • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        They have the requisite number of vowels in their surnames. That’s close enough for me.

        Nice gravatar.

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:13 AM

        Yes, but based on the current criteria, every star player on DR, VZ, PR, or the Netherlands could choose to play for the US based on long residency while playing in the US in either the major or minor leagues….the criteria are definitely loose.

      • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 8:49 AM

        Yes, the criteria are loose, but at least there are some native sons of Italy. It’s not like Team España, with its measly one.

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:23 AM

        Not really, using the current definitions, anyone can be the “son” of anywhere by simply playing baseball there a couple of years. If Manny plays in Taiwan for a couple of seasons, he’ll be eligible to play for their 2017 WBC team.

      • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:53 AM

        I understand, and I was initially responding to the snarky comment that implied there were no native Italians on the team. There are. Anyone can claim to be the native son of anywhere and the WBC has loose qualifications, but there actually are team members born in Italy, which is my definition of a native son.

        Manny is from Mars. He can claim to be from any country he wants.

      • paperlions - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:54 AM

        I agree….it is cool that Italy and Spain actually have academies and leagues and are starting to get into the sport.

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:00 AM

        The gravitar was for the other half of your she-woman man-haters club, and it served its’ purpose. Now I’m moving on to something a little more personal.

      • indaburg - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:41 AM

        Oh, goodness, I don’t hate men. Far from it. I just think it’s funny when a guy is hit in the nuts. I’m giggling now just thinking about it.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:15 AM

        Boooo! It was my fondest dream to actually be able to troll that A-hole. :(

      • unclemosesgreen - Mar 14, 2013 at 9:45 AM

        Historio – you should ask Gator to play some Ouija Seance Scrabble with Alexander Hamilton, just to make sure he’s really worth this volume of hatred in 2013. He is beginning to look like a strawman.

        Inda – you’re technically correct, enjoying seeing a man get hit in the balls doesn’t make you a misanthrope, it just makes you a horrible person. ;)

      • historiophiliac - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:18 PM

        Ditto on the loving dudes but LMAO at HBPiD. :)

  3. solidzac - Mar 14, 2013 at 12:36 AM

    I’m sure Puerto Rico Manager Edwin Rodriguez was glad Grilli didn’t pitch the 8th, unless he has some sort of heretofore unmentioned mind-controlling ability I don’t think he made the decision, per se.

  4. asimonetti88 - Mar 14, 2013 at 1:12 AM

    You did better than anyone expected, Italy! Italy is more of a soccer country anyway I guess.

  5. seattlenative57 - Mar 14, 2013 at 2:50 AM

    I presume it was the Team Italy manager who chose not to use Grilli. I felt like Kreskin trying to understand this post. Now you see it, then you don’t.

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