Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Miggy, Odor spark Venezuela over Italy to advance

Venezuela is moving on to the second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Italy is going home.
Venezuela rallied to beat Italy, 4-3, in the Pool D tiebreaker on Monday at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara, Mexico, to earn a trip to San Diego and a meeting with Team USAon Wednesday at 9 p.m. ET.
Miguel Cabrera (Tigers) tied the game at 2-2 with a leadoff homer in the top of the ninth and Rougned Odor (Rangers) singled to score Victor Martinez (Tigers) with the go-ahead run as Venezuela stormed back to reach the second round for the third time in tournament history.
"Wow, we keep coming back from behind," Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel said. "The team never dies. We keep fighting until the end."
Odor later scored on a suicide squeeze by Alcides Escobar (Royals) to give Venezuela an insurance run, which proved necessary as Italy's Alex Liddi homered to lead off the bottom of the ninth.
Italy's John Andreoli homered to break a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning, briefly giving the Italians hope of making the second round for the second straight Classic. Andreoli stepped to the plate with two outs in the ninth, but Venezuela closer Francisco Rodriguez (Tigers) got him to ground out to third.
"It was a long wait," said Venezuela reliever Deolis Guerra (Angels), who recorded eight outs. "It was short, but for us it was long. We wanted this opportunity. We wanted to make it up to ourselves and our nation, and thank God, due to some very little difference, we had a chance today, and I believe we got all the energy out and we could get the victory.
Miggy keeps mashing:
 Cabrera's game-tying homer was his first of WBC '17 and his sixth overall in Classic play, tying him for second all-time with Nate Freiman (Israel) and Frederich Cepeda (Cuba).
Andreoli stays hot: Italy scored two batters into the bottom of the first, as Andreoli led off with a double and Daniel Descalso (D-backs) followed with a single to bring him home. Andreoli, an outfielder in the Cubs' system, finished pool play with a .316 average, three homers and seven RBIs. More >
"That kid is just to me incredible," Italy manager Marco Mazzieri said of Andreoli. "He's so prepared, so much detail. He hustles all the time. Just a leader."
Taking advantage: Venezuela tied the game, 1-1, in the sixth when Ender Inciarte (Braves) scored Odubel Herrera (Phillies) with a single. The Venezuelans benefited from some shaky defense by the Italians, who committed an error and followed the miscue with a poor throw across the diamond that prevented a double play.
Morris mows 'em down: Italy starter A.J. Morris pitched five hitless innings, striking out five against one walk. Morris was able to face the minimum over his five innings thanks to a double play in the fourth that saw Rob Segedin (Dodgers) double off Inciarte at first base on a fly-ball out to right field.
"Miguel Cabrera has been known to us. He's been doing it for 15 years now. It's all right. We'll take it. We've got to swallow it. It's not going to be easy, but eventually we have to." -- Mazzieri
"Well, I remember when I played in Game 7 of the World Series in 1997. That night before the game it was really stressful, and I hadn't felt that way until last night. It's been a really hard road. … You know, I've had butterflies all over my body every day, and we finally came up with a win." -- Vizquel
Venezuela: Up next for Venezuela is a matchup with Team USA in the second round. The game will be played on Wednesday at Petco Park in San Diego with first pitch scheduled for 9 p.m. ET.
Italy: With Monday's defeat, Italy has been eliminated from WBC '17.

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