GERMANY – Italy sent 10 batters to the plate in a pivotal four-run eighth to rally past Germany 8-6 Friday and inch closer to advancing to Sunday’s title game against the Netherlands at the 2010 European Championships.
The host nation grabbed a quick lead in the first on a two-bagger off the bat of Ludwig Glaser, but Italy answered back in the bottom of the same inning on a two-run double by Jairo Ramos.
The fireworks continued in the third as both squads tacked on two more scores. Glaser knotted the score with an infield hit before Dominik Wulf crossed the plate on a throwing error to give the Germans a brief lead. Ramos singled down the right field line to pull the Italians even, and Laidel Chapelli’s sacrifice fly put the Azzurri back on top.
Germany retaliated with three unanswered runs to hold a two-run advantage. Eddie Martinez drilled a two-run homer in the sixth with two down, and Wulf added another two-out long ball an inning later. But skipper Marco Mazzieri’s rejuvenated squad batted around in the eighth to turn back the tournament host.
Marco Grifantini (1-0) scattered a hit and struck out four in two relief frames to earn the win.
ITALY 9, FRANCE 2
Tony Granato sparked a five-run fifth with a two-run home run to lead Italy past France in Stuttgart. With the win, Italy moved closer to reaching the championship game against the Netherlands.
Italy opened the scoring in the third on a single off the bat of Mario Chiarini, and stretched the lead to 6-0 after five frames. The French broke through against Italian starter Carlos Richetti the following inning on a leadoff solo homer by Kenji Hagiwara. But the Azzurri put the game away in the seventh as Jairo Ramos highlighted a three-run frame with a two-run shot.
Robin Allemand tagged Italian reliever Carlos Pezzullo with a two-out solo long ball in the ninth.
Richetti (1-0) limited French hitters to a run on three hits while notching 10 strikeouts to pick up the win.
SWEDEN 3, FRANCE 2
Rickard Leander snapped a tied ballgame with a two-run blast in the sixth and Sweden continued its surprising run with a narrow win against France at TVC Stadium in Stuttgart. The Swedish (4-2; 2-1) can book a ticket to the championship game with a win over Germany on Saturday, and a loss by Italy to the Netherlands.
The Cinderella squad opened the scoring in the second on a pair of two-out doubles by Rickard Reimer and Chris Johansson. France pulled even one inning later on a single by Omar Williams, and the score remained unchanged until Leander belted the first pitch he saw from French starter Samuel Meurant over the fence in right center.
The French closed the gap to a lone score in the eight and had the tying run just 90 feet from paydirt. However, Nick Soubiea retired Max LeFevre on a flyout to left field to escape a bases-loaded jam, and worked a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his second save.
Jacob Claesson (2-0) surrendered a run on five hits and overcame six walks in seven innings to earn the decision.
2010 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP SCHEDULE:
Saturday, July 31
Italy vs. Netherlands (Stuttgart)
Sweden vs. Germany (Stuttgart)
Greece vs. France (Heidenheim)
Sunday, August 1
Netherlands vs. TBD (Stuttgart)
Photo courtesy of Ezio Ratti/FIBS