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Italy tries to slow down high-powered Dominican Republic at WBC

(Sports Network) - It's no surprise that the Dominican Republic is in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. However, nobody could have predicted that Italy would be one of the teams joining it.

Italy looks to continue its surprising run on Tuesday when it begins Pool 2 play against the Dominican Republic at Marlins Ballpark.

However, that may be easier said than done for Marco Mazzieri's club, as they go up against a Dominican Republic team that was 3-0 in pool play and hit .324 as a team, while pitching to a 2.67 ERA.

The Dominicans, of course, were bounced in the first round of the 2009 WBC thanks to a pair of losses to the upstart Netherlands, which has already advanced to the Championship Round of this year's event.

Second baseman Robinson Cano has led the way for Tony Pena's club this time around, going 9-for-15 with one homer, three doubles and five RBI and was named the Pool C MVP.

"When you have a constellation of stars. such as the one that I have in my hand, you try hard to keep everyone happy," Pena said. "As I told my team, there is no superstar here, everybody is the same here. We're only here to do one thing, which is represent it as well as possible."

Pena will hand the ball on Tuesday to righty Edinson Volquez, who had his first start against Team Venezuela cut short because of a rain delay.

Tasked with trying to slow down the high-powered Dominican offense on Tuesday will be righty Tiago Da Silva, who pitched 3 1/3 innings of relief in the first round, allowing one run on four hits with five strikeouts and just one walk.

"It just feels great to know that I will be the starting pitcher tomorrow," said Da Silva. "I was looking forward to this moment to possibly face a very good lineup, whatever that may have been, and I will try to do everything possible to get a 'W.'"

Italy is in the midst of its best showing at the World Baseball Classic.

After stunning Mexico in its opener, the Italians drubbed Canada.14-4, before losing to the United States.

Infielder Chris Colabello has set the tone at the plate with a .455 batting average. The 29-year-old, who is trying to make the Minnesota Twins this spring, is 5-for-11 with a home run, four RBI and three runs scored.

The winner of this contest will face the winner between the United States- Puerto Rico matchup for a berth in the final round. Meanwhile, the losers of the two games will face off in an elimination contest.

03/12 09:59:59 ET


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