by Simon Fitzjohn
Great Britain’s unbeaten start to the European Championships came to a shuddering halt at the hands of pre-tournament favourites Italy in Montjuic.
As feared, and possibly even expected, the British offense which had amassed 26 hits and scored 22 runs in their first two Pool B games came completely unstuck against quality Italian pitching.
Opposing starter Giovanni CARRARA tied Team GB in knots, allowing just three hits while striking out eight over seven scoreless innings.
While British starter Sam JEW didn’t pitch badly himself over his six innings of work, the Italians found a way of scratching runs in the second, third and fourth innings through a combination of singles and walks.To add to their problems, both Ian YOUNG and Tim COLLINS committed errors during those run-scoring innings.
With Team GB still in their kicking, Italy produced a hammer blow in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Reliever Sam WATERMAN laboured through 1/3 of an inning and surrendered a long 2-run home run to De Biase that pretty much ended the game as a contest.
While the nature of Britain’s improvement can be measured in that the matchup between these two nations in 2005 saw a 12-0 ‘mercy rule’ Italian victory, a similar performance and result for Team GB in another crunch clash against France tomorrow and the Olympic dream will be over.