ITALY SURPRISES TEAM USA
Three errors lead to five unearned runs in 6-2 victory
Italy took advantage of three errors and scored five unearned runs Friday to hand Team USA its first loss at the IBAF World Cup, 6-2, in Taiwan.
Shortstop Brian Bixler (Pirates) mishandled a grounder by Leonardo Zileri in the top of the second, giving Italy a 1-0 lead and ending Team USA’s shutout streak at 19 innings. Jack Santora and Davide Dallospedale followed with RBI singles to extend the advantage to 3-0.
Team USA (2-1) answered in the third, when Rays prospect Justin Ruggiano hit a leadoff homer and Andy LaRoche (Dodgers) stroked a run-scoring double.
But Italy, which had not defeated the United States since the 1986 World Cup, tacked on three runs in the fourth against relievers Jerry Blevins (Athletics) and Steven Shell (Angels). After another miscue by Bixler and an errant pickoff attempt by Blevins, Dallospedale produced a run with a groundout, Max De Biase hit an RBI single and Mario Chiarini doubled him home to cap the scoring.
Six relievers combined for six scoreless innings as Italy (2-0) remained unbeaten in the 16-nation tournament.
Team USA threatened in the ninth, when Alessandro Maestri walked the bases loaded. But the Cubs prospect struck out Jayson Nix (Rockies) to end the game.
Phillies prospect Josh Outman (0-1) got the start for Team USA and gave up three runs on five hits in three innings.
The United States returns to action Saturday against Japan in Taichung.