Series A1 baseball opened their season on Friday with reigning champions, the Rimini Pirates, taking a 4-2 victory over Nettuno. In a well-fought-for victory, it all came down to a home run. That would be a reoccurring theme throughout many of the games in Italy over the weekend. Through most of the game it was Nettuno in the lead. They scored 1 in the 1st and another in the 3rd before Rimini answered in the 4th with a run, only managing to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th. In the bottom of the 8th however, David Angulo’s 2-run homer sealed it for the Pirates.
Also playing on Friday were Bologna and Padova. That game ended in a 7-3 victory for Bologna. The game started with a 3-inning shutout for both teams. It wasn’t until the top of the 4th that anyone got on the board. Padova scored 2 to start the 4th and Bologna answered with 1 in the bottom of the 5th but it wasn’t until the bottom of the 6th that things finally began to fall apart for Padova. Bologna had a 5-run inning that occurred only after Habeck’s time on the mound had ended. Through 5.0 Andre Habeck gave up just 1 earned run off 2 hits, while striking out as many as he walked, 5. His replacement, Diego Fabiani, was not quite as warmed up as you’d prefer your middle reliever to be. Over .2 innings of work he gave up 5 runs, 4 earned, off 4 hits with a big fat goose egg in the strikeout column. The time between those two outs was the difference in the game. For Bologna Jorge Martinez pitched 4.0 innings giving up 2 earned runs while striking our 4. Though the final run for Padovo came on Raul Rivero’s watch, he was not responsible for it. It was an unearned run. Rivero, who pitched 3.1 innings, gave up 4 hits while striking out 6. Filippo Crepaldi rounded out the pen for Bologna with 1.2 innings of perfect work and a single strikeout.
The final game in Friday’s lineup took place between Parma and Nuova. This was a pitcher’s game through 7. Neither team scored and both starters looked strong. For Parma Callaba Casanova went 7.0 innings giving up just 2 hits while striking out 9. Still, he struggled some with control. He gave up 1 walk, had a wild pitch and hit someone as well. On Nettuno’s side, Daniel Richmond pitched 6.0 innings giving up just 3 hits while striking out just 3 and walking 1. It was the hand off of the ball, for both benches, that opened up the game. Richmond’s replacement, Frailyn Florian, struck out 6 in his 2.0 innings of work but he also gave up 4 runs, 3 earned, off 4 hits while walking 1. Through the final two innings of the game, Parma put 5 runs on the board while Nettuno came back with 2 of their own to end the 9th. The heavy hitters on Parma’s bench were Charlie Mirabal and Alex Sambucci. Marabal went 4-4 with a run and an RBI on the day. Sambucci had just 1 run off 1 hit but when that hit’s a bomb well, then you get to add 3 RBIs to your totals for the day.
On Saturday Nuova won the rematch with Parma. Goose eggs through 8.5, this was most definitely an intense game. While Nuova stuck with their starter, Richard Castillo, through 6.0 innings, Parma was tag teaming the position, switching out a fresh arm every 3 innings like clockwork. For his part, Castillo walked 2 and struck out 6 while not giving up a single hit. His replacement, Valerio Simone went 1.1 innings giving up 2 hits and walking 1 while also striking out 1. Maros Frias finished off for Nuova giving up just a walk while striking one out to finish the game. On Parma’s side Eduard Pirvu pitched 3.0 innings giving up 2 hits, walking 1 and throwing wild once while striking out 3. Next up, Luis Santana gave up just a single hit while striking out 3 over his 3.0 innings of work. It was during Michele Pomponi’s 2.0 innings of work where things changed. In the bottom of the 9th Leomart Rodgriguez let Parma know that, like Sambucci, he too could hit it out of the park over left. That solo shot was enough to end the game 1-0. Aside from that Pomponi had given up just 1 other hit while striking out 1.
In Rimini’s second game of the weekend against Nettuno the final score was 10-0, in favor of the defending champions who took the game in 7. On the hill to start the game for the Pirates was Jos Ruiz. Ruiz pitched 4.0 innings giving up just 1 hit while walking 2 and striking out 5. Bassani, Kelly and Marquez all came out from the pen for an inning each to finish things up. Only Kelly gave up another hit the remainder of the game as the men combined to strike out another 5 while walking none. On offense, it was a team effort as well. Four players, with at least 3 at bats for the day, left the field hitting over .400.
Also playing on Saturday were T&A San Marino and Padule. This was another mercy ruling with San Marino ahead 12-0 after 7. Pitching for San Marino was Alessandro Maestri through the first 5.0 innings. Maestri left the game giving up 3 hits, 2 walks and hitting 2 others while striking out 5. Yes, it is early in the year and control is certainly a contributing factor as arms get back up to speed. It is as much good defense as shear luck early in the season though when these types of mistakes are not reflected in the opposition’s final score.
For Padule, Junior Perez threw 5.0 innings giving up 5 runs off 5 hits while walking as many as he struck out, 4. He also had 1 wild pitch and a hit by pitch. Still, when he left the game, the score was 5-0. By the 7th, the tally was 12. Leonardo Molina came in for just .2 innings of work but between those two outs, a lot happened. He gave up 4 runs off 3 hits, all earned, while walking 4 and not striking out a soul. For his part, Raffaele Bosi closed out the game giving up 3 more in 4 outs of play. His line was 3 runs off 3 hits, all earned, with 2 walks. Looks good when you’ve got a bat in-hand but, when those hands are filled with ball and glove, not an ideal line of stats.
Bologna and Padova’s Saturday rematch left the teams elbow deep in a pitchers’ duel. Those who don’t know baseball would have called the game boring. Those who do would say it was an incredible game. Scoreless through 8, on the mound for Bologna Andrea Pizziconi pitched 5.0 innings of near perfect ball. He gave up 3 hits while striking out 5. He did have some luck on his side as well however. He not only had a wild pitch on the day but a hit by pitch as well. We suspect it was knowing how great the defense at his back are that allowed him to focus and reset between pitches. Antonio Noguera followed Pizziconi to the hill where he pitched the next 3.0 innings. While striking out 3, he gave up just 2 hits. Finishing off the 9th was Murilo Brolo Gouvea who struck out 1 and gave up nothing for his effort.
On Padova’s side of things, the credit truly belongs to Yohan Pino. He pitched 6.0 innings giving up 5 hits while striking out 4. Roberto Corradini followed him like clockwork through the next two but things fell apart for him in the 9th. Bologna resorted to small ball to get their game-winning run across the plate. Marvel started them off with a single and Garcia followed in kind. Marvel advanced to 3rd on Garcia’s shot. Following a visit to the mound, Garcia continued to shake up Corradini’s game by stealing 2nd. Vaglio singled but the shot was to 3rd so that left Marvel sitting tight. Then, finally, Maggi sacrificed to left and Marvel came on home for, what would become, the game winning run. A walk to load up the bases with just one out on the board would still follow however before Grimaudo ended the top of the inning grounding out into a double play.