In a tie-breaker game of which the participation of Venezuela was rather controversial, Italy was kicked out of the tournament as the team blew a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning.
After having beaten Venezuela on Sunday, Mexico was convinced that it would be the opponent of Italy in the tie-breaker game. During the game vs Mexico, the play-by-play announcers said that Venezuela would be out of contention because they had allowed more runs than Mexico.
The WBC came with a statement regarding the tie-breaker game rule that explained why Mexico was eliminated: “According to the worldwide event’s tiebreaker rules, when three teams finish with a 1-2 record in pool play, the two teams with the fewest runs allowed per defensive inning (including partial innings) — in games that exclusively involve the tied teams versus one another — play a tiebreaker to determine which advances to Round 2, and the third team is eliminated. The World Baseball Classic Technical Committee assigned to Pool D applied the tiebreaker criteria and reached the determination that Venezuela and Italy would play to break the tie.Based on the WBC Technical Committee’s calculation of runs allowed per defensive inning, Italy’s average was 1.05, Venezuela’s was 1.11 and Mexico’s was 1.12. The calculation of Mexico’s figure includes the five runs Team Italy scored without any outs recorded in the ninth inning on Thursday night. Italy had rallied to win that game, 10-9, in walk-off fashion.”
With Venezuela as the opponent, Italy took an early lead in this low scoring game (at least, compared to other games that have been played so far). After John Andreoli hit a ground rule double to right center field, Daniel Descalso drove him in on a line drive single to right field.
For the next four innings, not much happened, even though Italy had runners in scoring position thrice. In the first five innings, Venezuela was kept hitless for five innings by A.J. Morris, who walked one and fanned five. But as soon as Morris was replaced by Trey Nielsen, they got runners on base, thanks to a walk and a fielding error. Ender Inciarte singled home Odubel Herrera from second base for the game tying run.
But Italy would take the lead once again in the seventh inning, when John Andreoli hit a solo homerun to right center field.
Italy’s pitching managed to salvage the small lead in the eighth inning but in the ninth, Mike deMark took the mound to close out the game and that did not pan out well for the Squadra Azzuri. Miguel Cabrera hit a leadoff homerun to tie the game at two again, followed by a walk, back-to-back singles and a sacrifice bunt that drove in three runs for Venezuela to give them a 4-2 lead.
Manager Omar Vizquel sent Francisco Rodriguez to the mound to close out the game. He gave up a leadoff homerun to Alex Liddi but then retired the next three hitters for the save that sent Venezuela to round two.
Winning pitcher for Venezuela was Jose Alvarado, who pitched in 2.1 innings and gave up a run on one hit and a walk and struck out four.
The best Venezuelan hitter was Alcides Escobar, who went 1 for 2 with an RBI and a walk. In round two,
Venezuela will face Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the USA. Those games will be played in San Diego’s Petco Park.