The World Baseball Classic second tiebreaker let Cuba and Italy advance. The World Baseball Classic second tiebreaker let Cuba and Italy advance. (MLB on Fox on Twitter.)

Tiebreakers are often important, and the World Baseball Classic provided an excellent example of that Sunday. Italy’s 7-1 win over the Netherlands meant that all five teams in Pool A (also including Cuba, Panama, and Chinese Taipei) finished with a 2-2 record, preventing the first tiebreaker (head-to-head record between the tied teams) from being used. That meant it was necessary to use the second tiebreaker, runs allowed divided by defensive outs recorded. And that meant that Cuba (15 runs allowed in four games, 108 outs recorded, .139) and Italy (17/108/.151) advanced, while the Netherlands (19/102/.186), Panama (21/105/.200), and Chinese Taipei (31/105/.295) did not.

It was particularly important for Italy not just to win, but to win by a large amount. If they had only scored three runs or fewer, the Netherlands’ runs/outs ratio would have been better. Similarly, if they had allowed four more runs, the same would have happened. So that made Tampa Bay Rays’ minor-league reliever Joe LaSorsa’s entrance for Italy in the top of the fifth, with the bases loaded and no one out, particularly important. And he got Didi Gregorius to pop out, then struck out Jonathan Schoop, and then rang up Roger Bernadina, leading to a memorable celebration:

Italy also got some great offensive production, including a six-run bottom of the fourth punctuated with this triple from Kansas City Royals’ infielder Nicky Lopez:

And the news that they would, in fact, advance led to quite the celebration for manager Mike Piazza and the Italian team:

Italy is now off to the WBC quarterfinals for the first time since 2013.

[; image from MLB on Fox on Twitter]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.