While European Baseball already has a team in the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic with the Netherlands, Italy and Spain will enter the tournament this evening and on Friday. The last two days the two squads got the opportunity to square off with Major League teams during Spring Training, concluding training camp.
Spain got shut out 0-10 by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday. Led by top prospect Gerrit Cole the Pirates allowed just six Spanish hits. The lone Spanish Major Leaguer on the roster, Rhiner Cruz, got charged with the loss, issuing four hits, three runs and a walk in one inning of relief. Manager Mauro Mazzotti used seven pitchers in the game. One day later Spanish lost a slugfest 7-19 to the Baltimore Orioles. Spain managed 14 hits this time, led by Barbaro Canizares and Salomon Manriquez, which had three hits apiece. Engel Beltre scored twice. Again seven hurlers took the mound. Baltimore’s Russ Canzler impressed with two home runs and six RBI.
Italy didn’t fare much better. On Tuesday the Oakland Athletics downed the team of manager Marco Mazzieri by a score of 4-3. Oakland took a quick 4-0 lead through three innings. Italy was able to cut the deficit to a run until the ninth. Anthony Rizzo and Chris Colabello hit home runs for Italy. Ten pitchers took the mound for the Azzurri. Coco Crisp had three hits for the A’s. Brett Anderson had received the start. On Wednesday Italy looked to upset the Los Angeles Angels, taking a 5-5 tie into the bottom half of the eighth. But seven runs in that frame lifted LA to a 12-6 victory. Alex Liddi hit a two-run home run and drove in three. Seven hurlers took the mound for Italy, while Jered Weaver pitched for the Angels.
Italy will open the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Thursday at 9pm CET against Mexico, playing at Salt Rivers Field in Phoenix. Spain takes on Puerto Rico on Friday evening (11.30pm CET) at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. The Netherlands will face Cuba on Friday afternoon (4am CET) at the Tokyo Dome to start round two.