In two more World Baseball Classic qualifiers, Colombia scored five runs in the second inning on the way to beating Nicaragua 8-1. Over in New Taipei City, New Zealand, behind the pitching of the two Holdzkom brothers, eliminated the Philippines 10-6.
Colombia broke out to an early lead in the second inning when former Astros farmhand Steve Brown had an RBI single off of Mariners pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. After a hit batter loaded the bases and a ground out by Edgar Renteria scored a second run, Colombia blew the game wide open with a triple by Marlins utility player Donovan Solano, which plated in three runs as Solano himself scored on a bad throw.
That was all the scoring that Colombia would need as Royals prospect Sugar Ray Marimon, who pitched in Double-A this past season, shut down the Nicaraguan team for five innings. He allowed only one run on a fourth inning home run by Royals third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert, who played for High-A Wilmington in 2012. That was the only run that Nicaragua would get, and Colombia cruised to an easy 8-1 win.
Marimon got the win after allowing one run on four hits. He didn't walk anyone and struck out four. Unfortunately and perhaps unwisely, he threw 61 pitches which means he's out for the rest of the qualifying bracket, barring a rain out.
Indians third baseman Giovanny Urshela, who played for High-A Carolina this past year, hit a solo home run in the fourth inning. He was 2 for 4 and scored twice.Center fielder Steve Brown homered in the eighth inning for Colombia with a man on to turn the game into a blowout. Brown was 2 for 4 with three RBI and two runs scored.
Over in New Taipei City, New Zealand easily advanced to the title game with a 10-6 win over the Philippines. The key to their victory was the Holdzkom brothers, as John, who pitched for the Reds High-A team in Bakersfield, started and got the win. His older brother Lincoln entered the game with one out in the eighth inning after the Philippines had scored four runs to cut the lead to 10-6. With runners on first and second, he induced an inning-ending double play out of former BYU catcher Chad Nacapoy. Holdzkom then pitched the ninth inning for a save.
New Zealand's offense was led by shortstop Scott Campbell, who got as high as Triple-A in the Blue Jays organization in 2009. Campbell was 2 for 3 with a double, a sac fly and three RBI. He scored once. The Moanaroa brothers also played a big role as Boss had a two-run single in the fifth. He was 1 for 3 with two walks. Moko Moanaroa was 1 for 5 with two runs scored and a run batted in.
New Zealand's win sets up a rematch with the host Chinese Taipei, who beat them 10-0 in seven innings in their first game in the bracket. They will play tonight at midnight Chicago time and will be televised on the MLB Network.
In today's action, Colombia is currently (as I write this) taking on Brazil for the right to go to the qualifier championship. Nicaragua takes on Panama later in an elimination game. Those games are being called by Kane County announcer Wayne Randazzo.