2012 Italian Series
The 2012 Italian Series was won by T&A San Marino, their second consecutive scudetto and third title in five years. The Series MVP was Francesco Imperiali, who hit a 3-run homer in the finale, then delivered the winning double in the bottom of the 9th. San Marino beat Rimini, 4 games to 2.
San Marino went 31-11 to tie for first in the regular season with Unipol Bologna then had the best record (6-3) in the round-robin playoffs. In the regular season, they outscored opponents 272-148, showing the best offense in the Italian Baseball League while finishing 4th in the 8-team league in pitching. The potent offense was led by Joe Mazzuca (.278/.410/.507), Marco Yepez (.318/.403/.480), Mattia Reginato (.307/.375/.475) and Carlos Duran (.315/.358/.492). The pitching staff was led by Darwin Cubillan (2-0, 5 Sv, 1.23), Yulman Ribeiro (2-3, 3 Sv, 1.57), Tiago Da Silva (6-1, 2.10, 4th in the league in ERA), Chris Cooper (7-2, 2.27, tied for 3rd in wins) and Rodney Rodriguez (6-2, 2.28, 98 K in 75 IP, 2nd in strikeouts).
Rimini was 28-14 to tie for third in the regular season and was 5-4 in the playoffs to pass Bologna, which was only 2-7 in that round. Rimini had the league's second-best offense after San Marino (264 R) and had slightly better pitching (142 runs allowed, 3rd place). Their top producers at the plate were Mario Chiarini (.305/.395/.549, a league-high 17 doubles and 41 runs), Max De Biase (.321/.425/.455), Luis Maza (.304/.394/.466) and Joe Persichina (.335/.401/.437). Their top hurlers were Carlos Pezzullo (2-0, 5 Sv, 1.00), Marcos Tabata (3-0, Sv, 1.23), Mark DiFelice (1-0, 3 Sv, 1.85), Francisco Cruceta (6-5, 2.60, a league-best 119 K in 79 2/3 IP, .171 opponent average) and Enorbel Márquez (7-2, 3.15, tied for third in the league in wins).
- August 10: San Marino 8, Rimini 5. San Marino began their title defense in exciting fashion, with a 9th-inning comeback win. They went ahead 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th against Marcos Tabata. LF Lorenzo Avagnina and CF Carlos Duran both singled, bringing up 41-year-old cleanup Jairo Ramos Gizzi, who contributed a 2-run double. 3B Joe Mazzuca then singled and an error on the play by Rimini CF Filippo Crociati scored Ramos. Through five innings, Rodney Rodriguez allowed only one hit and no runs for San Marino. He faded, giving up 3 hits but no runs in the 6th then a leadoff single to RF Mario Chiarini to open the 7th. He was relieved by former major leaguer Darwin Cubillan, the 2011 Italian Baseball League ERA king, but Cubillan did not have his best stuff today. Poor defense didn't help. With one out, Rimini C Juan Pablo Angrisano hit into an error by SS Daniel Bittar. After another out, Crociati hit into a miscue by Mazzuca to make it 3-1.
In the 8th, Rimini pulled ahead. With one out, 2B Joe Persichina hit into an error by Bittar. Persichina advanced on a fly out. That brought up DH Max De Biase and the Argentinian singled in Persichina. Angrisano singled as well, as did LF Riccardo Suardi to tie the game. 1B Giuseppe Spinelli then cracked a 2-run double, one of 3 hits for himself on the day, to put Rimini ahead 5-3 and knock out Cubillan in favor of Yulman Ribeiro.
In the bottom of the 9th, San Marino rallied for the home crowd. Against former major leaguer Francisco Cruceta, Ramos singled. Mazzuca struck out but RF Laidel Chapellí singled. 2B Francesco Imperiali drew an intentional walk to load the bases. Mark DiFelice, another ex-major leaguer, relieved Cruceta. He provided no relief whatsoever, as 1B Giovanni Pantaleoni greeted him with a 2-run single to tie it at 5. Marco Yepez (2010 Italian Series MVP) then pinch-hit for C Simone Albanese and clobbered a 3-run homer to end the game.
- August 11: San Marino 2, Rimini 0. In a change of pace from the opener, game 2 was a pitching duel, but the outcome was no better for the hosts. Both clubs turned to import hurlers, Rimini going with Cuban-born Enorbel Márquez, a German national team regular, while San Marino used Chris Cooper, a Pittsburgher. Márquez made the game's lone mistake, in the first inning. With two away, he gave up a single to CF Carlos Duran and DH Jairo Ramos Gizzi followed with a 2-run jack. That was all Cooper and his bullpen needed, as he, Iván Granados (Venezuela) and Tiago Da Silva (Brazil) combined on a multinational 5-hit shutout. Rimini got their only runner as far as 3rd in the 8th inning when SS Jack Santora walked, advanced on a wild pitch by Granados and took third on an error by C Mattia Reginato but was stranded.
- August 16: San Marino 7, Rimini 3. San Marino went up 3 games to 0. Rimini went ahead first, with two first-inning runs off Tiago Da Silva. SS Jack Santora laid down a bunt hit and 3B Joe Mazzuca made an error on the play. 3B Luis Maza bunted Santora over then 2B Joe Persichina singled him in. RF Mario Chiarini grounded Persichina to second and DH Max De Biase singled in the run to make it 2-0. Da Silva would allow only 3 hits and one run in the next 8 innings, though.
In the 4th, San Marino began their comeback against Roberto Corradini. Mazzuca hit a one-out double; an out later, 2B Francesco Imperiali singled him in. In the fifth, San Marino took the lead. SS Daniel Bittar and LF Lorenzo Avagnina hit back-to-back singles. CF Carlos Duran hit into an error by Santora, scoring Bittar. After a passed ball by C Juan Pablo Angrisano, DH Jairo Ramos Gizzi hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. 1B Marco Yepez then singled in Duran.
Rimini closed the gap to one in the 7th when Da Silva plunked Angrisano and 1B Giuseppe Spinelli hit a one-out RBI double. In the 8th, though, San Marino built their lead further. Imperiali led off with a double off Carlos Pezzullo. Sandy Patrone relieved but did not fare well. C Simone Albanese greeted him with a bunt single. Bittar grounded to Sahntora, who threw home to retire Imperiali. Avagnina, who already had 3 hits, reached on a force at second. Duran then slammed a 3-run homer to put it out of reach, 7-3.
- August 17: Rimini 3, San Marino 2. With their backs to the wall, Rimini stayed alive with a come-from-behind, extra-inning win. In the first, San Marino scored off Marcos Tabata when DH Jairo Ramos Gizzi singled in CF Carlos Duran. In the 6th, old-timer Ramos Gizzi went deep for a 2-0 lead, knocking out Tabata. Francisco Cruceta and Enorbel Márquez would toss shutout ball over the next six innings for Rimini, fanning 9 while allowing only 3 hits.
In the bottom of the 6th, Rimini finally got to Rodney Rodriguez as RF Mario Chiarini and DH Max De Biase hit back-to-back singles. Darwin Cubillan relieved but served up a 2-run double to LF Riccardo Suardi with one out to tie it. Things remained deadlocked until the bottom of the 11th. Rimini C Juan Pablo Angrisano hit into an error by SS Daniel Bittar. Suardi singled and Yulman Ribeiro relieved Cubillan. 1B Giuseppe Spinelli bunted into an error by 1B Marco Yepez, then CF Filippo Crociati hit a grounder to Santora, who threw home to get Angrisano. SS Jack Santora singled in Suardi to keep Rimini's hopes alive.
- August 18: Rimini 8, San Marino 2. Rimini won a second straight, this time in less dramatic fashion. In the top of the first, San Marino got their only runs. SS Daniel Bittar led off with a single off Sandy Patrone. Bittar stole second, took third on a wild pitch and came around on a triple by LF Lorenzo Avagnina. Another wild pitch brought Avagnina in. Rimini would retire 27 more San Marino players without giving up another run, with another excellent bullpen outing, as Mark DiFelice and Enorbel Márquez combined for 6 2/3 shutout innings with 3 hits.
Rimini went ahead for good in the bottom of the opening inning against Chris Cooper. SS Jack Santora singled and RF Mario Chiarini walked. 2B Joe Persichina bunted into an error by 3B Joe Mazzuca. After an out, DH Max De Biase slugged a 3-run homer. De Biase would finish 2 for 2 with two walks and the 3 RBI, while Chiarini would score 3 times in the win.
- August 24: San Marino 5, Rimini 4. In front of 2,000 home fans, San Marino defended their title behind a superstar effort from 2B Francesco Imperiali, their #7 batter.
Rimini came close to scoring in the second off Tiago Da Silva. DH Max De Biase led off with a double and C Juan Pablo Angrisano singled in a series of at-bats featuring two Argentinians against a Brazilian, some of the best South America (outside Venezuela) had to offer baseball in 2012. LF Riccardo Suardi grounded to 3B Joe Mazzuca, who threw home to get De Biase. Suardi was then caught stealing by C Simone Albanese to end that threat.
In the bottom of the second, San Marino got to work against Roberto Corradini. RF Carlos Duran singled. With one out, 40-year-old CF Laidel Chapellí did the same. After a passed ball by Angrisano, Imperiali smacked a 3-run homer. They got insurance in the 6th. 1B Marco Yepez singled, knocking out Corradini. Carlos Pezzullo relieved and allowed a single to DH Jairo Ramos Gizzi, sending Yepez to third. Duran then hit a sacrifice fly for a 4-0 lead.
Rimini tied it with a big 7th. Angrisano grounded into an error by Mazzuca, then the next three batters (hitters 7 through 9 in the order) singled: Suardi, 1B Giuseppe Spinelli and CF Brandon Chaves. That makde it 4-2. SS Jack Santora bunted the runners over, then 2B Joe Persichina hit a 2-run single to right to tie the game. Despite the rally, San Marino struck with Da Silva, who allowed no more runs. For the day, he gave up 12 hits, 3 of them to RF Mario Chiarini.
With the game still even at four in the bottom of the 9th, Chapellí singled off Pezzullo. Sandy Patrone was summoned from the bullpen, but the move backfired when Imperiali greeted him with a RBI double to end the Series.