(Reuters) - The Dominican Republic overcame an early four-run deficit to beat Italy 5-4 on Tuesday to open the double-elimination second round of the World Baseball Classic in Miami.
Nelson Cruz’s two-out, broken-bat single in the seventh inning scored Robinson Cano for the go-ahead run after a shallow sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez tied the game.
Italy had built a 4-0 lead in the first inning, helped by the early wildness of Dominican starter Edinson Volquez who walked the first three batters he faced and gave up just one hit in the first - a three-run homer by Chris Colabello.
Italy’s starting pitcher, Tiago Da Silva, mostly silenced the hard-hitting Dominicans but yielded solo home runs to Cano and Jose Reyes to close their lead to 4-2.
In the seventh, Reyes started the rally with a one-out single off Pat Venditte and Erick Aybar followed with another base hit. Cano was credited with a single on a fly ball to short left field that glanced off the glove of shortstop Anthony Granato to load the bases.
Reliever Luca Panerati walked Edwin Encarnacion on four pitches, forcing in a run. In came Brian Sweeney, Italy’s third pitcher of the inning, who yielded the game-tying sacrifice fly to Ramirez and opposite-field single by Cruz that prompted the Dominicans to leave the bench to celebrate at Marlins Park.
Five Dominican relievers combined to throw four and two-thirds scoreless innings, with Pedro Strop taking the win and Fernando Rodney the save.
The loss puts Italy within one more defeat of elimination and they will play the loser of Tuesday’s later game between the United States and Puerto Rico.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue