Japan defeats Italy
Italy, ranked #9 in the world, fell hard to #1 Japan in a 5-0 loss, their largest margin of defeat in the Games to date.
Scoreless through three this game looked like the ultimate pitching duel, advantage to Italy. After a 10-pitch top of the 1st, Italy’s LF Laura Vigna singled up the middle to reach and advanced to 2nd on a sacrifice bunt by Amanda Fama. Emily Carosone then flew out to left to get her into scoring position with two away. Erika Piancastelli went down swinging and, just like that, Italy’s first offensive efforts had ended with a runner stranded.
The 2nd inning had just 17 pitches, in total. Italy’s starter Alexia Lacatena threw eight and Japan’s RHP Yamato Fujita tossed the other nine.
Japan’s offense finally reached on a walk in the 3rd before the defense handled Kawabata as she tried to advance on a fielder’s choice. In the bottom of the inning Beatrice Ricchi started off with a double to right and was left stranded when the offense failed to pick her up.
In the top of the 4th the offense finally broke through. After Harada reached on a walk, Yu Yamamoto homered deep to right and scored them both to place Japan on top 2-0. The bottom of the inning was a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 for the Japanese defense.
2B Andrea Filler reached in the bottom of the 5th with a single down the right field line and was left sitting on base, making her Italy’s third stranded runner.
After a pitching change in the top of the 5th, Japan’s offense got enough of a look at Italy’s reliever Ilaria Cacciamani to have her number. The RHP took down Japan’s #2 batter with a ground out before Minori Naito reached on a single back to the pitcher. Yamamoto then reached on a one-bag to left. Hitting in the 4-spot, Yamato Fujita did her job cleaning up the bags with a 3-run homer to left.
In the bottom of the 6th the Italians again left runners stranded. Amanda Fama reached with patience, and Emily Carosone took one for the team, putting runners on 1st and 2nd with just one away before Piancastelli K’d and Giulia Longhi grounded out. In the bottom of the 7th Andrea Filler, who was also hit by a pitch, was left waiting to be sent around.
Italy finished the day with 3 hits and 6 left on base. Japan had 5 runs off 6 hits while leaving 3 stranded. Yamato Fujita went the distance for Japan striking out 10 and throwing 74 of her 112 pitches through the heart of the plate.
Italy’s next opponent is Mexico. Both teams are 0-3 heading into the day. When these two teams last met Mexico defeated the Italians 1-0.