With nine outs to go, the members of Team Italy had to be pretty confident they could get out of Marlins Stadium in Miami with a big World Baseball Classic win on Tuesday afternoon.
The Italian team was leading the Dominican Republic 4-2 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. From his vantage point in the Team Italy bullpen, Matt Torra of Pittsfield said his team was feeling pretty confident.
"We were feeling good. We thought we had them," said Torra. "When you give a team six outs ... it's nobody's fault but they're getting the opportunities. That's a tough lineup to have that many chances."
The three-run seventh inning turned the game upside down for Team Italy, as the Dominican Republic rallied for a 5-4 win on Tuesday.
"Everybody was down," said Torra, reached in his Miami-area hotel room Tuesday night. "We know we can still go out there and win two in a row to get to the next round."
Torra and his Italian teammates will play Puerto Rico tonight at 7. Puerto Rico lost 7-1 to the United States on Tuesday night. If Team Italy wins that and then wins on Friday night, it would head to the final leg of the WBC in San Francisco. If the Italians lose tonight, then Torra and the rest of his American baseball teammates on the team would return to their respective spring training camps. For Torra, that would be going to Viera, Fla., to join the Washington Nationals' camp.
"I wouldn't mind taking this to the end," Torra said.
Torra's first appearance came in Arizona on March 7, when he threw an 8-pitch, 6-strike scoreless inning in a 6-5 win over Mexico.
"I really felt pretty good. I felt comfortable," he said. "There was a calm [feeling]. I went out there relaxed, attacked the zone, made quick work and got out of the inning."
The former Pittsfield High School and UMass pitching standout took the hill in relief on Saturday in a 6-2 loss to the United States.
Torra took the mound after Marco Grifantini walked Adam Jones and gave up a single to Jonathan Lucroy. Torra got Jimmy Rollins on a pop fly to center before giving up an RBI single to Brandon Phillips and striking out Ryan Braun on what Torra called a "perfect" change-up.
He then got to a 1-2 count on David Wright, when he got a pitch a little bit up, and the New York Mets star drove it over the fence in left for a grand slam to give the U.S. its first lead of the tournament.
Stanton followed with a groundout to end the inning. Grifantini took the loss.
"I was going change-up down and away, trying to just set up for another fastball in on him," Torra said. "The change-up stayed up. It wasn't a horrible pitch, but it jut wasn't as far down as I would have liked it. You could see him dive out over the plate. He was able to get it up and get it into the air."
Against the American team, Torra faced six players who have been All-Stars and MVP candidates in Mauer and Braun.
While Torra would like to keep playing with Team Italy, he did say the experience will do nothing but help him when he reports to the Nationals.
"The six guys I faced against Team USA, you're never going to face that in a row again unless you're in an All-Star game," he said. "For me, that's as big of a challenge I could have on that stage. If I get the chance to get called up, I'll already have experienced it, and it won't be like my first time."
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