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Surprising Italy stomps Canada to improve to 2-0 at WBC

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PHOENIX -- Mercy, look who's off to a 2-0 start at the World Baseball Classic.

Italy, which had never won more than a game in either of the two previous Classics, followed its come-from-behind win over Mexico on Thursday night with a 14-4 thumping of Canada on Friday to go to 2-0 in Group D competition before the United States had even played a game.

Chris Colabello drove in four runs with four hits, including a three-run homer, to lead the rout.

Italy scored eight runs after Canada cut the lead to 6-4 in the top of the seventh.

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The game was called under the tournament's "mercy rule" after Italy scored five times in the eighth to make it a 10-run game.

"My No. 1 goal coming here and joining these guys was to be able to get a couple w's and see how far we could go," Colabello said. "All personal stuff aside, it's such an unselfish group."

The Italian team plays the United States on Saturday night. Canada (0-1) plays Mexico Saturday afternoon.

Italy has not clinched a trip to the second round, but it's certainly in very good shape, especially since a three-team tie would be decided by a formula that relies, essentially, on total runs scored vs. runs allowed.

"I love all my players," manager Marco Mazzieri said. "We have a great coaching staff and we knew we were going to do well. How well? We couldn't tell. But we prepared to do well. And actually these guys just executed and it couldn't be any more perfect."

Starter Alessandro Maestri, who pitched in Japan last season after five seasons in the Chicago Cubs organization, got the victory, going three-plus innings, allowing a run on three hits with three strikeouts and a walk.

Canadian starter Shawn Hill allowed two runs in 2 2-3 innings to get the loss - although the real damage came off the man who relieved him, Scott Mathieson, who gave up four runs on five hits in 1 1-3 innings.

Colabello's homer came off Mathiesen in Italy's four-run third inning.

"I think guys are in a little bit of disbelief," Mathiesen said, "but at this point you've just got to forget about it and look to tomorrow."

With the game tied at 1-1, Anthony Granato singled and Nick Punto walked to start the third. It looked like Canada might escape the jam when Chris DeNorfia of the San Diego Padres grounded sharply into a double play, leaving a runner at third and two outs.

Mathieson relieved Hill and walked Anthony Rizzo, then Alex Liddi's RBI single put Italy up for good 2-1. That brought up Colabello, who hit the first pitch over the wall in left to make it 5-1.

Down 6-2 in the top of the seventh, Canada loaded the bases with two outs, then Michael Saunders singled in two runs to make it 6-4, but reliever Brian Sweeney came on to strike out pinch hitter Tim Smith and end the inning.

Italy, the reigning European champion, answered with three in its half of the seventh, all of the damage coming after two outs. Colabello singled and Mike Costanzo walked, then a broken-bat RBI single by Mario Chiarini made it 7-4. Drew Butera's double added two more runs, then the Italians got another on Punto's double, followed by Chris DeNorfia's RBI single in the eighth.

Italy sent seven batters to the plate without an out in the eighth to end the game.

The four-run third was the biggest inning for Italy in its WBC history. Colabello, who played for Double-A New Britain last season after seven years in the independent CanAm League, is the first player for Italy to have three RBIs in a World Baseball Classic game.

Canada had seven left-handed hitters in its lineup and planned to use Toronto third baseman Brett Lawrie to help break that up a bit, but he was a last-minute scratch for the tournament with a rib injury.

"We miss him," manager Ernie Whitt said, "but that's not the reason why we lost today. Let's be honest, the team, they came up with key hits in situations where we didn't shut them down. One player is not going to make a difference."

The game had been scheduled for Salt River Fields in Scottsdale, spring training home for the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies, but was moved to Chase Field in downtown Phoenix because of rain. Chase has a retractable roof.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
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