USA started Josh Outman didn't start off as he'd planned, walking the first two batters that stepped to the plate for Italy but a quick 5-4-3 double play and a strikeout quickly erased the threat and pushed Team USA's scoreless inning streak to 19. It would end there. In the second inning after two quick outs back-to-back singles gave Italy runners at the corners. Outman got Italy's ninth place hitter Leonardo Zileri on a grounder to short but Brian Bixler booted the ball giving Italy a 1-0 lead; two singles later and the Italy lead stretched to 3-0.
Team USA bounced right back in the top of the third when left-fielder Justin Ruggiano led off the inning with his first homerun of the tournament, a 3-1 blast into the left field seats. Two batters later, Brian Bixler laid a perfect bunt down the third base line for an infield hit but was picked off first with Colby Rasmus batting. Rasmus then doubled to left and after Jayson Nix was hit by a pitch Adam LaRoche doubled to left-center scoring Rasmus and cutting the Italy lead to 3-2.
Italy struck for three more runs in the bottom of the 4th. Lefty Jerry Blevins relieved Outman and after SS Brian Bixler second error of the game on a tough chopper up the middle Blevins handcuffed first basemen Andy LaRoche on a pickoff attempt for Team USA's third error of the game. Steven Shell then relieved Blevins and after a groundout plated a runner Shell gave up back to back hits to Maximiliano Di Blaise and Mario Chirini and Italy extended their lead to 6-2 on five unearned runs. Shell pitched shutout ball through the eighth but the damage had already been done. Six Italy relievers pitch six shutout innings while striking out six as the U.S. managed just two hits the rest of the way as Italy beat the heavily favored Team USA 6-2.
Of special note: Former Dodger manager and current Team USA manager, Davey Johnson, was placed on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee ballot.
Again, watch all future games live or taped at this website.
Also, The Road to Beijing Blog provides excellent coverage of this tournament. They add that former Dodger farmhand
(Justin) Ruggiano has come to play. Not sure if you could fill a stat sheet any more than he did today: 2-2 with a HR, RBI, SB, R and 2 BB.Story Link: USA Baseball Game Notes: