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2008 European Cup Final Four

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The 2008 European Cup Final Four marked a change in the format of the European Cup. Prior to 2008, one club won the European Cup as the top team in Europe. The format switch involved the creation of two European Cups; the winner and runner-up of each would meet in a Final Four later in the season to crown another champion.

In 2008, the new system did not work as planned. Corendon Kinheim, one of the European Cup winners, skipped the event as the Hoofdklasse season was still ongoing. Their spot was taken by T & A San Marino, the third-place finisher in the Grosseto European Cup; San Marino was fresh off a title in the Serie A1 season. Due to the absence of Kinheim, three of the four competitors in the Final Four came from Serie A1.

[edit] September 13

Grosseto rallied within one in the 6th. LF Lorenzo Avagnina and SS Raul Marval singled with two outs and C Kelly Ramos took a walk. With the bases juiced, 1B Luca Bischeri singled home two but a strike out ended the rally and Grosseto got no closer.

With one on and two outs in the 9th, former major leaguer Giovanni Carrara came on for Nettuno but allowed a single to Núñez that put men on the corners. He recovered to fan Dallospedale to end the game.

The hosts did get ahead early when C Miguel Mora was singled home by 1B Oscar Roman in the 1st, jumping on former major leaguer Horacio Estrada. Estrada would not allow another run. Homer Baez, on the other hand, kept the Serie A1 champs scoreless for 7. In the 8th, 45-year-old 1B David Sheldon coaxed a one-out walk and advanced on a grounder. LF Dean Rovinelli singled him home. RF Riccardo Suari followed with a double to drive in Rovinelli with the winner.

In the 9th, Jesus Golindano singled off Brian Looney, who had relieved Estrada and was also an ex-major leaguer. The 38-year-old Looney allowed a hit to Juan Salazar as well. With two outs, Albert Diaz grounded to 3B Marco Benvenuti to end the threat as Looney saved it.

Baez threw 147 pitches for the hosts.

[edit] September 14

The two clubs from the 2008 Italian Series met for a re-match; this time, Nettuno won the duel.

Tiago da Silva (San Marino) and Victor Arias (Nettuno) pitched scoreless ball for 3 innings. In the 4th, DH Max De Biase singled for San Marino and later scored on a hit by C Simone Albanese for a 1-0 lead. It was short-lived as RF Juan Camilo led off the bottom of the 4th with a double. After two walks by da Silva, C Vincent Parisi singled home Camilo to tie the game.

In the 7th, 1B David Sheldon singled home SS Seth La Fera to give San Marino the lead but they stranded the bases loaded in failing to tack on any more insurance. In the 8th, San Marino got two men on but failed to drive them in.

Those stranded runners came back to hurt the Serie A1 champs in the bottom of the 8th. Luca Martignoni relieved da Silva, who had thrown 88 pitches. With one out, he walked former major leaguer Ugueto as well as Camilo. 3B Giuseppe Mazzanti flew out but 2B Ramon Tavarez delivered a game-winning double that would earn him MVP honors.

Giovanni Carrara came in to close it for Nettuno but he allowed a quick single to Sheldon. DH Max De Biase flew out and LF Giacomo Matteini hit into a force at second. C Riccardo Suardi then grounded out to Ugueto to end the contest.

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