Italy made history at the LLWS this weekend | News, Sports, Jobs
Italy have won five regional titles over the years competing in Europe to qualify for the Little League World Series. But one thing that always eluded Italian teams was a mark in the win column.
Going into the 2022 tournament, Italy had gone 0-14 all-time in the Little League World Series.
When little league Emilia-Romagna Bologna, Italy won the regional Europe and Africa title in the Netherlands this summer, manager Stefano Tamburini looked at his team and told them they could come to South Williamsport and compete in the World Series. But he noted something else to his team.
“Our coach told us that we came here to play baseball and to win, and this victory in the Netherlands brought us here, and we made history,” said Italian Pablo Suarez.
History has indeed been made.
Tamburini’s words rang true to his team in the Netherlands and on Saturday afternoon Italy did what no other Italian team has done: earn a series win.
Italy rallied from a 5-0 deficit to defeat Australia and in doing so secured the country’s first-ever victory.
“It’s a small community, and we made history because no Italian team has ever won a game here in the Little League (World Series), not even a consolation game. So we’re so proud for our country we are so proud and there are a lot of highs now,” said Tamburini. “Luckily we can watch it again via ESPN and we know for sure a lot of kids watched it.
“Hopefully that translates to more small players, young players,” Tamburini continued. “That’s what we’re hoping for. I think that will help a lot. Just for the fact that somehow we know where we are, we know where we are, but somehow we can get there.
Italy trailed Australia 5-0 after two sets on Saturday, but the Bologna stars never gave up and kept fighting. Italy scored four goals in the third set before adding two more in the top of the fourth to take the lead before Australia tied 6-6 late. but Italy scored six runs in the fifth to draw the game.
Being behind for Italy in a match is nothing new or daunting for Tamburini’s stars. He’s seen his players rally on a number of occasions, including regionals and tournaments before that. He helped prepare his Italian team.
“These kids, they’re having so much fun. I think that’s key. … This team is strong because it’s a team. They can bounce back from any situation. In the first tournament we had in Italy we played five games and all of us were always playing from behind because the other team was scoring and scoring,” said Tamburini. “We always had to come from behind, so we’re a bit used to it.”
Italy have won four of the last five regional tournaments in Europe and Africa. Emilia Little League won consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017 and Emilia Romagna Little League of Bologna won it in 2019 and again this year. There was no international ground in 2021 and no tournament at all in 2020. Catalonia’s little league side Barcelona, Spain, won the region in 2018. But Tamburini believes a two-year layoff due to COVID-19 disrupting youth baseball was actually something that made not just its players, but the region, stronger.
“The last two years have been really difficult, especially for this age because of COVID. So it wasn’t easy to keep the guys on the pitch and it wasn’t easy to train them, but somehow this thing maybe made us stronger. said Tamburini. “I don’t know, I can’t explain why because we haven’t really trained. In 20 it was a completely canceled season, 21 was like half a season. I do not know. Maybe this thing made us stronger, I can’t explain why.
Even if Tamburini can’t put his finger on it, the fact remains that Italy made history this year. And for Tamburini he was part of a special race for Italy. Italy were knocked out of the league on Sunday morning in a tough 1-0 loss to Willemstad, Curacao at the Volunteer Stadium.
“It was just wonderful, really. I think the kids played above expectations. They did a great job, they lost 2-0 to Taipei (Chinese), they lost 1-0 to Curacao , two of the strongest teams here,” said Tamburini. “We played well. From a mental standpoint, they’re really, really great.