YONKERS, N.Y. – Team Italy is making history in the World Baseball Classic and a Yonkers native has been right in the middle of it.
Brian Sweeney and the Italians advanced to the second round of the international baseball tournament with a pair of upset victories this weekend, the first time Italy has moved on in the tournament.
The team put on a show in what USA Today called “the greatest 24 hours in Italian baseball history,” upsetting Mexico and Canada on Friday and Saturday in group play. Italy finished the preliminary round with a 2-1 record, with a loss to the United States, good enough to advance to the second round of play in Miami.
Sweeney, a former standout player at Archbishop Stepinac High School who later went on to pitch at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, has had a hand in the Italians tournament success, appearing in two games without giving up a run.
On Friday, in the 14-4 win over Canada, the 38-year-old righty came in during the seventh inning with two outs and two runners on. Sweeney worked out of the jam, striking out pinch-hitter Tim Smith on six pitches.
A day later, in a 6-2 loss, Sweeney took the mound against the United States, recording three outs with no runs against the heart of the American’s lineup.
After giving up a lead-off single to Milwaukee Brewers left-fielder and 2011 National League MVP Ryan Braun, Sweeney retired Joe Mauer and New York Mets third baseman David Wright on a pair of fly balls.
After giving up a walk, Sweeney got Eric Hosmer to end the seventh inning with a pop-out.
The Italians will take the field again on Tuesday at 1 p.m. when they open up round two play against the Dominican Republic at Marlins Park.
Puerto Rico and the United States will round out the field set to play in Miami.
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