Italy Stuns Mexico With Five-Run Rally

Italy scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped by John Andreoli’s walkoff two-run single, to stun Mexico 10-9 in the opener of Pool C play in Jalisco, Mexico late Thursday night.

Italy (1-0) never led at any point until Andreoli stroked the game-winning knock off Oliver Perez to send the Italians storming onto the field in wild celebration.

Down 9-5 and facing closer Roberto Osuna, Francisco Cervelli, Chris Colabello and Alex Liddi opened the ninth with consecutive doubles cut Italy’s deficit to 9-7. Drew Butera reached on an error and Drew Maggi walked to load the bases with still no one out, and Perez was called upon to replace Osuna.

Mets prospect Brandon Nimmo promptly singled to score another and make it 9-8.

Up stepped Andreoli, whose hard grounder scraped just under diving second baseman Luis Urias and bounced into right field, allowing both the tying and winning runs to score.

Osuna (0-1) was charged with the loss for Mexico (0-1) and Perez was credited with a blown save. Jordan Romano (1-0) earned with win with a scoreless top of the ninth.

Italy hit four of the combined six home runs in the game as the ball flew out of Estadio Charros de Jalisco.

Andreoli, Colabello, Butera and Rob Segedin all homered in the first five innings for Italy. Despite that early outburst, Mexico still led thanks in part to a home run by Esteban Quiroz to lead off the game and a solo shot by Japhet Amador in the fourth.

This is the second WBC in a row the Italians shocked Mexico. Italy opened Pool D play in Arizona in 2013 with a 6-5 win over Mexico by scoring two runs in the top of the ninth on an Anthony Rizzo double.

JAPAN 7, CHINA 1: Japan wrapped up the first round of Pool B with a victory over China on Friday at Tokyo Dome. Playing before a crowd of 40,053, the Japanese squad claimed the pool crown and goes into the second round (Pool E) with a perfect 3-0 record.

Behind home runs from first baseman Sho Nakata (his second of the Classic) and light-hitting catcher Seiji Kobayashi, Japan scored five times in the first three innings and coasted to the win. Righthanded starter Shota Takeda was the winning pitcher, while Quan Gan took the loss for China (0-3).

“We were able to play well and never felt any pressure in any of our three wins,” Japan manager Hiroki Kokubo said.

Japan opens second-round play against the Netherlands on Sunday in Tokyo.

Wayne Graczyk

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