Every time Venezuela fell down, Martin Prado was there to pick his countrymen back up.
Prado went 5-for-5 with three RBIs, including the tiebreaking RBI double in the top of the 10th inning, and Venezuela outlasted Italy 11-10 in a Pool D thriller in Jalisco, Mexico on Saturday.
Venezuela (1-1) erased a five-run deficit, then blew leads of 8-5 in the seventh and 10-8 in the ninth, lost catcher Salvador Perez on a collision at the plate to prevent the winning run from scoring, and finally prevailed on Prado’s knock and a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th from Padres lefthanded relief prospect Jose Castillo, the 16th different pitcher to appear in the 4 hour, 43 minute marathon.
Alex Liddi and Brandon Nimmo homered in the fourth inning to help get Italy (1-1) out to a 5-0 lead, but Venezuela exploded for eight runs combined in the fifth, sixth, and seventh, led by a pair of hits from Prado including a two-run double.
Italy took its turn to rally and tied the score 8-8 going to the ninth. Perez hit a two-run homer off Pat Venditte with one out in the ninth to give Venezuela back the lead, but Italy had another rally in it.
With one run already in but Italy down to its final strike, Gavin Cecchini reached out on a breaking ball at his feet and looped a run-scoring single into left field to score Drew Maggi with the tying run. Drew Butera tried to score the winning run from first on the play but was thrown out the plate. Butera, the Royals backup catcher, rolled into the legs of Perez, the Royals starting catcher, on the play, and Perez had to be helped off the field by trainers.
Prado put Venezuela up one final time when he lined Trey Nielsen’s offering into the left-center gap to score Jose Altuve all the way from first base in the top of the 10th, and Castillo closed it out in the bottom of the frame.
The wild contest featured a combined 21 runs, 29 hits, 12 walks and four errors.
Carlos Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two doubles, Alcides Escobar drove in three runs and Altuve scored three times for Venezuela. Francisco Cervelli went 3-for-6 and scored three runs and Daniel Descalso drove in three to lead Italy.
Rodriguez got the win despite blowing the save and Castillo got the save. Nielsen, a Cardinals prospect, took the loss.
Italy wraps up pool play against Puerto Rico on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Venezuela finishes against host Mexico on Sunday at 10 p.m. ET.