Friday, March 8, 2013
Italy defeats Canada via mercy rule
ESPN.com news services
Chris Colabello drove in four runs with four hits, including a three-run homer, and surprising Italy routed Canada 14-4 on Friday to improve to 2-0 in Group D competition at the World Baseball Classic in Phoenix.
Italy scored eight runs after Canada cut the lead to 6-4 in the top of the seventh. It's the first time in the three World Baseball Classics that Italy has won two games. Italy opened play with a ninth-inning rally to beat Mexico 6-5 on Thursday night.
The game was called under the tournament's "mercy rule" after Italy scored five times in the eighth to make it a 10-run game. Italy beat Canada for its lone victory in the 2009 Classic.
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Italy's rare double walk-off victory against Canada on Friday is one reason why the World Baseball Classic is such a fun competition, writes Jim Caple. Story
The Italian team plays the United States on Saturday night. Canada (0-1) plays Mexico on Saturday afternoon.
Starter Alessandro Maestri, who pitched in Japan last season after five seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization, got the victory, going three-plus innings, allowing a run on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk.
Canadian starter Shawn Hill allowed two runs in 2 2-3 innings to get the loss -- although the real damage came off the man who relieved him, Scott Mathieson, who gave up four runs on five hits in 1 1-3 innings.
With the game tied at 1-1, Anthony Granato singled and Nick Punto walked to start the third. It looked like Canada might escape the jam when Chris Denorfia of the San Diego Padres grounded sharply into a double play, leaving a runner at third and two outs.
Mathieson relieved Hill and walked Anthony Rizzo, then Alex Liddi's RBI single put Italy up for good 2-1. That brought up Colabello, who hit the first pitch over the wall in left to make it 5-1.
Down 6-2 in the top of the seventh, Canada loaded the bases with two outs, then Saunders singled in two runs to make it 6-4, but reliever Brian Sweeney came on to strike out pinch hitter Tim Smith and end the inning.
Italy, the reigning European champion, answered with three in its half of the seventh, all of the damage coming after two outs. Colabello singled and Mike Costanzo walked, then a broken-bat RBI single by Mario Chiarini made it 7-4. Butero's double added two more runs, then the Italians got another on Punto's double, followed by Chris DeNorfia's RBI single in the eighth.
Italy sent seven batters to the plate without an out in the eighth to bring it to a merciful end.
The four-run third was the biggest inning for Italy in its WBC history. Colabello, who played for Double-A New Britain last season after seven years in the independent CanAm League, is the first player for Italy to have three RBIs in a World Baseball Classic game.
The game had been scheduled for Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, spring training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, but was moved to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix because of rain. Chase has a retractable roof.
Puerto Rico 3, Spain 0
Carlos Beltran's RBI double keyed a three-run first inning and three Puerto Rico pitchers combined on a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Spain in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In the tournament opener for both teams, Angel Pagan got Puerto Rico started with a leadoff single against Sergio Perez. One out later, Alex Rios was hit by a pitch and Beltran drove in Pagan with a double to right.
Yadier Molina reached on an error and Mike Aviles hit a sacrifice fly. Consecutive walks to Pedro Valdes and Carlos Rivera forced in another run.
Puerto Rico starter Giancarlo Alvarado struck out four in four innings of one-hit ball. Hiram Burgos followed with 4 2-3 innings and Xavier Cedeno threw a called third strike past pinch-hitter Salomon Manriquez with a runner on to end it.
Puerto Rico joined the Dominican Republic atop the Group C standings. The Dominicans beat Venezuela 9-3 in their opener Thursday night.
Spain faces the Dominican Republic in the early game Saturday. Puerto Rico plays Venezuela.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.