Pat Venditte hasn't pitched in the big leagues yet. But the ambidextrous pitcher who played for the Class A Charleston RiverDogs in 2009 is having a blast playing for Italy in the ongoing World Baseball Classic.

“It's a big deal to me,” Venditte told “I became an Italian citizen for this, and it's something I really looked forward to doing.”

Venditte is an Omaha native and Creighton graduate but can play for Team Italy because his great grandfather moved to the U.S. from Italy.

Italy pulled one of the first big WBC upsets of 2013, rallying Thursday to defeat Mexico.

Venditte, 27, remains in the New York Yankees' minor league system.

Two other former RiverDogs are in the WBC.

Right-handed pitcher Jose Veras is playing for the Dominican Republic. Veras pitched for the RiverDogs in 2000. He is 19-17 in major league stops with the Yankees, Indians, Marlins, Pirates and Brewers.

Middle infielder Walter Ibarra is on the Team Mexico roster. Ibarra played for the RiverDogs in 2008 and 2009 and for the Yankees' double-A Trenton team in 2012.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff