2014 Italian Series

From BR Bullpen

The 2014 Italian Series was won by Unipol Bologna in 7 games after ASD Rimini. The MVP was catcher Guillermo Rodriguez, who hit .379/.455/.621 with 7 runs and 10 RBI in seven games.


Bologna was 30-8 between the first phase and second phase of the regular season. Their offense was led by veteran outfielder Claudio Liverziani (.291/.462/.402) and catcher Guillermo Rodriguez (.267/.386/.414). Joey Williamson (11-3, 1.01, 121 K, 23 BB in 98 IP) was the top starter and Raul Rivero (3-0, 11 Sv, 0.40 ERA, 20 H, 8 BB, 55 K in 44 2/3 IP) was the closer. Marco Nanni was the manager.

Rimini was 22-16 in the regular season for skipper Christian Catanoso. They were led at the plate by two former major leaguers, Alex Romero (.326/.467/.450) and Oscar Salazar (.282/.435/.489). They also had two ex-big leaguers on the staff in Mike Ekstrom (6-2, 1.36, 101 K in 79 2/3 IP) and Enrique Gonzalez (3-2, 1.69, .140 opponent average) while Enorbel Márquez (4-0, Sv, 1.97, 50 K in 45 2/3 IP) and José Escalona (3-1, 6 Sv, 1.82, 45 K in 24 2/3 IP) also pitched well.


Bologna looked to have this one put away easily only to fall apart. They pounded Gonzalez for four runs in the first. SS Juan Carlos Infante walked and stole second, then Liverziani homered with one out. LF Trent Oeltjen tripled then Rodriguez singled in the run. With two outs, Rodriguez stole second then scored on a hit by DH Alessandro Grimaudo to make it 4-0. In the top of the 4th, Rimini got their only run off Williamson. SS Jack Santora hit a one-out double and scored on a double by RF Romero. In the bottom of the 5th, Liverziani walked. Márquez relieved the struggling major leaguer Gonzalez (4 R, 6 H in 4 IP); he and Escalona would allow only two hits and no runs in the next seven frames. Oeltjen bunted Liverziani over and with two outs, 2B Alessandro Vaglio doubled in Liverziani.

It was 5-1 entering the 9th when Rimini rallied off Rivero, he of the 0.40 regular season ERA. Romero drew a leadoff walk. With one out, 3B Giuseppe Mazzanti singled, as did DH Mario Chiarini to close it to 5-2. 1B Giuseppe Spinelli got a full count from Rivero, then singled to load the bases. Lorenzo Di Fabio pinch-ran for Spinelli. 2B Riccardo Babini delivered a two-run single. C Pierangelo Cit lined out. CF Leonardo Zileri singled in the tying run, knocking out Rivero with a four-run frame. Manauris Baez relieved and escaped without further harm by getting Santora to hit into a force.

In the bottom of the 9th, Bologna got a leadoff walk from 1B Daniele Malengo but Escalona retired the next three. In the top of the 10th, Oscar Salazar drew a one-out walk and Chiarini walked with two away but Di Fabio (staying in at LF) lined out. In the top of the 11th, Zileri hit a two-out dinger off Baez to put Rimini ahead for good. Bologna challenged in the bottom of the 11th. Vaglio got the lone hit off Escalona and was bunted over by Grimaudo. Malengo flew out, but PH Francesco Fuzzi drew a walk. Vaglio stole third, then Infante was intentionally walked to load them up. PH Marco Sabbatani worked Escalona to a full count before going down swinging.

Bologna again exploded for four in the first, but this time did not blow it. Infante drew a leadoff walk from Roberto Corradini and was bunted over by LF Grimaudo. RF Liverziani hit a RBI single, then CF Oeltjen doubled. Corradini intentionally walked C Rodriguez, then 2B Vaglio hit a sacrifice fly. DH Sabbatani smacked a two-run double for the 4-0 score.

Rimini got their first runs off Riccardo De Santis in the 4th. SS Santora singled and LF Salazar hit a one-out double. With two outs, DH Chiarini doubled them both in to cut it to 4-2. Rimini got as close as they would in the top of the 5th. 1B Spinelli hit into an error by 3B Fuzzi and CF Zileri hit into a one-out error by Infante. Santora drew a four-pitch walk to load the bases. RF Romero hit into a run-scoring force but Salazar flew out to leave them one run short.

In the bottom of that inning, Bologna padded their lead. Liverziani doubled, then Oeltjen reached on a fielder's choice. Daniele Del Bianco relieved Corradini but hit Rodriguez. Vaglio and Sabbatani hit back-to-back sacrifice flies. Del Bianco then hit his second batter, 1B Malengo. Fuzzi drew a walk to load the bases. Franklyn Torres relieved the struggling Del Bianco and got Infante on a grounder but it was now 6-3. In the 7th, Bologna scored one last run. With one out, Sabbatani and Malengo singled, then Torres hit Fuzzi. Tommaso Cherubini relieved and walked Infante on five pitches to force in the 7th Bologna run. Filippo Crepaldi worked the final two innings for Bologna in relief of De Santis.

The Series moved to Stadio Comunale and the home team won in front of 1,500 fans with another exciting contest, if not quite as dramatic as their game 1 rally. In the top of the second, 3B Mazzanti homered off Williamson but that was the lone run off Williamson who again had a great day (1 R in 6 IP) wasted.

Bologna took the lead in the bottom of the 5th off Gonzalez. With one out, they got four straight hits, by 2B Vaglio, LF Grimaudo, DH Sabbatani and 1B Malengo for a 2-1 lead. SS Infante drew a walk to load the bases and Escalona replaced Gonzalez. 3B Fuzzi promptly hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the rally. Gonzalez and Escalona would strike out 16 batters in 8 1/3 IP.

In the top of the 9th, Rivero was trying to wrap it up better than he had in game 1. Again, the regular season lights-out closer was not up to the task. Mazzanti singled with one-out. DH Chiarini popped up a bunt and Di Fabio pinch-ran for Mazzanti. 2B Gomez singled, then 1B Spinelli walked to load the bases. Crepaldi relieved the sputtering Rivero but served up a game-losing two-run single to C Riccardo Bertagnon.

Rimini started off on fire against Baez. CF Zileri drew a leadoff walk, then RF Romero hit a one-out single. LF Salazar fanned, but 3B Mazzanti singled in Zileri. DH Chiarini tripled to right to make it 3-0, then came home on a double by 2B Gomez. 1B Spinelli walked, but Gomez was caught stealing third. In the bottom of the second, Zileri doubled with one out, then SS Santora singled. Romero lined out, then Salazar walked. Mazzanti singled in two for a 6-0 lead, chasing Baez in favor of Salomon Marinez.

Bologna began their major comeback in the third. 3B Fuzzi singled with one out off Marquez, then RF Liverziani walked on four pitches. C Rodriguez flew out, but 2B Vaglio hit a 3-run dinger. In the 5th, Bologna closed it to 6-4; with two outs, Marquez plunked Rodriguez, Vaglio singled him to third, then Marquez threw a wild pitch to score Rodriguez. Mazzanti homered off Marinez in the bottom of the 5th for a 7-4 lead; Rivero was summoned to relieve Marinez and this time Rivero looked his regular-season dominant self (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K).

Rivero's dominance proved critical as Bologna continued to rally. With one out in the 6th, LF Grimaudo singled and 1B Malengo walked. SS Infante singled to make it 7-5. Escalona relieved Marquez and retired Fuzzi for out number two. Liverziani fouled off two full-count pitches before walking to load the bases. Rodriguez cleared them with a double to put Bolonga up 8-7. Torres was their third pitcher of the game. Vaglio grounded into an error by his counterpart, Gomez. CF Oeltjen drew a walk to load the bases again. DH Sabbatani singled for a 10-7 edge. Rimini tried their fourth hurler of the inning, Ekstrom. Grimaudo greeted him with his second single of the inning but Malengo grounded out. Bologna got some extra insurance in the 9th. Malengo doubled off Del Bianco, then Infante walked. Fuzzi bunted the runners over. Liverziani drew a walk to load the bases. Alessandro Biondi relieved Del Bianco but Rodriguez hit a two-run double for a 12-7 score.

For Bologna, Rodriguez finished with 5 RBI and Grimaudo 4 hits to back up Rivero's superb relief. Mazzanti was 3 for 4 with four RBI in a losing cause.

In a rematch of game 2, Corradini (Rimini) and De Santis (Bologna) engaged in a pitching duel, with scoring only taking place in one inning. In the bottom of the 5th, 1B Spinelli singled off De Santis. With one out, CF Zileri was hit by a pitch. SS Santora singled in Spinelli, then RF Romero smashed a three-run bomb. Corradini tossed a six-hitter with no walks and striking out five.

The Series returned to Stadio Gianni Falchi and the host Bologna club responded for their home fans by winning in a romp to tie and force game 7. Bologna got going in the second against former major leaguer Gonzalez. With one out, 2B Vaglio walked and CF Oeltjen singled him to third; a wild pitch made it 1-0. Bologna had the bases loaded in the third but Oeltjen struck out. In the bottom of the 4th, 1B Malengo walked but LF Grimaudo bunted into a force. DH Andrea D'Amico singled, then SS Infante was plunked to load the bases. 3B Fuzzi hit a sacrifice fly then RF Liverziani hit a RBI single to make it 3-0. Gonzalez would leave after 4 1/3 IP with 5 hits, 4 walks and 3 runs.

In the bottom of the 6th, Bologna padded the lead against Marquez. Fuzzi walked, Liverziani singled and C Rodriguez smacked a two-run double to right-center. Oeltjen singled for a 6-0 edge. They kept up the trend of scoring every even-numbered inning in the 8th against Cherubini. Liverziani, who had three hits, walked. After a wild pitch, Rodriguez walked as well. Two outs later, Malengo doubled to make it 8-0 Bologna. Meanwhile, Williamson (who finally had some support) had allowed 3 hits and no runs through 8 while fanning 10. RF Romero singled to open the 9th, but LF Salazar hit into a twin killing. 3B Mazzanti homered to avoid a shutout and DH Chiarini singled, chasing Williamson after 154 pitches. Crepaldi relieved and whiffed 2B Gomez to end it.

2,500 fans turned out to see Rivero (usually the closer) toss a gem to wrap up the Series. The goat of games 1 and 3 and hero of game 4, Rivero allowed only two hits and two walks while striking out 12 in a complete game. The only hits came from LF Salazar and DH Chiarini. On the other hand, Corradini did not fare as well for Rimini; the game 5 ace gave up a leadoff double to SS Infante in the first, then 3B Fuzzi bunted him over and RF Liverziani singled him in. In the third, C Rodriguez hit a two-out homer for a 2-0 lead.

In the bottom of the 7th, Fuzzi hit a one-out single off Escalona, Liverziani walked and Rodriguez singled to make it 3-0. They capped the scoring in the 8th against Marquez as LF Grimaudo tripled -with one out and DH Sabbatani laid down a squeeze bunt. Bologna had won its 10th title and first in five years.