By Marvin Moore
Carlos Duran drilled a pivotal two-run homer and T&A San Marino bagged its 14th consecutive win Thursday night with a 7-5 win over Unipol Bologna in the Italian Baseball League.
The Titans (31-9) can clinch their second straight IBL regular season crown with one victory in their final two games.
Bologna (29-11) plated four quick scores off San Marino starter Rodney Rodriguez in the opening frame. Gabriele Ermini and Takahiko Sato tallied RBI hits before Allesandro Vaglio capped the early uprising with a run-scoring sacrifice fly.
The reigning Italian Series champion answered back in the fourth with a four-run frame to pull even. Laidel Chapelli tripled home a pair of scores while both Francesco Imperiali and Francesco Cingolani tallied RBIs for the red-hot Titans.
Duran, who is batting .328 in 40 games, belted his fifth long ball of the season in the sixth to give San Marino its first taste of the lead. Bologna made it a one-run affair in the seventh on an RBI groundout off the bat of Ermini before reliever Darwin Cubilan retired seven of the next eight batters to seal the win.
Former Tenerife Marlins left-hander Ivan Granados (3-0) scattered a walk and two hits over five scoreless relief innings to notch the win.
PARMA 2, RIMINI 1
Jose Saanchez threw one-run ball over seven strong innings and Cariparma Parma nipped Telemarket Rimini Thursday night in the series opener of a three-game set.
Alex Sambucci snapped a scoreless deadlock with a leadoff solo bomb to start the fourth. Sebastiano Pomo capped the two-run frame with an RBI infield hit to put the visitors out front.
The Pirates (26-14) finally got on the board in the seventh and loaded the sacks an inning later after Parma closer Marco Grifantini issued a trio of free passes. However, the American hurler struck out Riccardo Suardi on a full count pitch to escape the frame unscathed.
NETTUNO 2, GODO 1
Juan Figueroa and Santo Hernandez combined on a five-hitter to lead Caffe Danesi Nettuno to a narrow win over the Godo Knights.
The Knights (15-25) opened the scoring in the third on a run-scoring single by Juan Gonzalez. But Nettuno answered back in the fourth on a two-run hit off the bat of shortstop William Bergolla.
Figueroa (7-3) allowed a lone run on four hits and a walk over five frames to notch the win. Hernandez collected the final 12 outs in dominant fashion with seven strikeouts to earn the save.
1. T&A SAN MARINO (31-9)
2. UNIPOL BOLOGNA (29-11)
3. DANESI CAFFE’ NETTUNO (26-14)
3. TELEMARKET RIMINI (26-14)
5. CARIPARMA PARMA (21-19)
6. DE ANGELIS GODO KNIGHTS (14-26)
7. GROSSETO BASEBALL (8-31)
8. NOVARA UNITED (4-35)