BANGOR — Called upon to pinch hit in a bases-loaded situation in a tie game, South Vineland, N.J.’s Chris Lopez knew just what to do Thursday night.
Lopez laid down a perfect bunt on the first-base line to break a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning and manager Abe Heredia’s club scored nine runs in that frame en route to an 11-6 Senior League World Series victory over Europe-Middle East-Africa champ Lazio, Italy at Mansfield Stadium.
Lopez actually didn’t believe he would see any game action, as he may pitch for 4-0 U.S. East champs in Friday morning’s semifinal against Aruba, set for 11:30.
“I didn’t think I was going to get an at-bat or play at all today because [I may be] pitching [Friday], so coach just told me to be ready,” Lopez said. “I put my cleats on and got it down.”
Italy concludes with a 1-3 record in the tourney’s final game of pool play.
The Europeans and New Jersey stars each got a run in the first while Italy took a 4-2 lead thanks to a run in the third and two more in the fourth while South Vineland scored once in the third.
Italy starter Edoardo Ferranti kept New Jersey off-balance in his 3ª innings, departing with one out in the fourth when his pitch count reached the 90s.
“We knew he’s very tough, we’ve seen him pitch against Texas,” Heredia said. “We thought if we could get him out of there early we could get to them.”
Chris Adorno, who led South Vineland with two singles, a run and two RBIs, said Ferranti’s curveball was tough to figure out.
“He had a curveball that looked like a fastball at the beginning and then it dropped, that’s what I think had most people off-balance,” Adorno said.
But Adorno and his teammates went to work in the fifth, as nine New Jersey runs scored on just five hits as South Vineland also took advantage of two Italy errors.
Adorno’s two-run single was the big hit while Lopez’ bunt gave South Vineland the lead for good.
“I just wanted to put it in play I didn’t really care where it went because the guy [on third] was coming,” Lopez said.
Italy didn’t go down quietly, scoring two runs in the seventh on Roberto Colpanni’s two-run double to left-center.
That was the only big blow off winning pitcher Mike Beltran, who went 6¤ innings before reaching the 95-pitch mark, striking out three and walking one.
“Mike threw a good game, he just threw strikes and let us field,” Adorno said.
Catcher Jerrod Corniell also enjoyed a multi-hit game for New Jersey with three singles, an RBI and a run scored while Beltran had a couple of base hits to help his cause.
For Italy, Fabrizio Brignone singled twice, scored and knocked in a run while Valerio Lucini had three singles, a run and RBI. The Italians’ other repeat hitter was Alexxandro Grimaudo, who singled twice and scored.
EMEA (1-3) 101 200 2 — 6 10 4
East (4-0) 101 090 x — 11 11 2
Ferranti, Cozolino (4), Lucini (5), Lanza (5) and Grimaudo; Beltran, Adorno (7) and Corniell; WP-Beltran (1-0); LP-Lucini (0-1); Repeat hitters: Brignone (EMEA), Lucini (EMEA), Grimaudo (EMEA); Adorno (E), Corniell (E), Beltran (E); Extra-base hits: 2B: Colpanni (EMEA); Biggs (E)