BANGOR, Maine — It had been four years and one day since the champion from the Europe-Middle East-Africa region had won a game at the Senior League World Series. That’s because other sports, predominantly soccer, dominate the sports scene in those countries.
The Italian team from Friuli Venezia Giuilia snapped their region’s 14-game losing streak with an 11-8 victory over the United States Central champs from West Madison, Wis., Tuesday morning.
Both teams are now 1-2 in pool play.
“We wanted to win one game in this tournament and we made it,” said Italian second baseman Federico Ugrin, who had a double, two singles and two runs batted in to spark a nine-hit attack.
“We underestimated them at first,” said West Madison pitcher Austin Rice. “They came out swinging the bats. We weren’t ready for them.”
“We hit the ball well,” said Italian first baseman Luca Ainger, who had the game’s most important hit, a two-run double in the fifth inning.
The Italians took a 3-0 lead in the first inning without the benefit of a hit but West Madison tied it with three runs in the fourth.
The EMEA champs answered swiftly with a four-run fifth- inning rally that gave them the lead for good.
Andrea Berini opened the fifth by getting hit by a Rice pitch and Marco Gheno reached on a bunt single to first.
Ugrin grounded a single to left to score Berini.
Ugrin stole second and, one out later, the lefthanded-hitting Ainger belted a two-run double to right center.
“[Rice] threw me a fastball inside and I was able to hit it far,” said Ainger. ‘We showed everybody how we can hit today.”
Ainger scored on Alberto Varin’s double.
“We needed a stop there but they came back with four and all the momentum went their way,” said West Madison catcher Zach Addamo.
The Italians reached Hall and Kody Parman for four more runs in the sixth.
A walk, a sacrifice and two wild pitches produced the first run before another walk and Ugrin’s double made it 9-3. Pietro Gheno greeted Parman with a single and, a fielder’s choice later, Alberto Varin hit sharp two-run single to left.
West Madison didn’t give up. They scratched out a run in the sixth on Josh Horman’s RBI fielder’s choice.
In the seventh, a Nate Thill single, a hit batsman and a walk set the stage for Chris Anderson, who walloped the tournament’s first homer and his first homer in nine post-season games, a towering two-out grand slam over the 375-foot sign in right center field.
But reliever Thomas Marusig, who had come on with two on and nobody out in the seventh, struck out the next hitter to end the game. Marusig stuck out the side.
Gabriele Orso pitched the first four innings for the Italians before Francesco Olivieri pitched the fifth and sixth and faced the first two hitters in the seventh.
The trio allowed nine hits but walked just two and hit a batter.
“They threw 65 percent strikes which is good,” said Italy manager Diego Schina.
Five West Madison pitchers surrendered six walks and hit three batters and five wound up scoring.
Varin doubled and singled to complement Ugrin’s three-hit game.
Addamo had three singles for West Madison and Sean Blythe and Josh Horman had RBI singles.
EMEA (1-2) 300 044 0 — 11 9 1
U.S. Central (1-2) 000 301 4 — 8 9 4
Orso, Olivieri (5), Marusig (7) and Varin; Anderson, Rice (2), Hall (5), Parman (6), Thill (7) and Addamo