Two teams earned a day off tomorrow and punched their ticket to the qualifier finals. Two other teams were elminated.
Panama City Qualifier
In the big matchup of the week, Team Colombia was an unwelcome guest as they easily dispatched the host team, Panama, 6-3. The win sends Colombia to the finals of this modified double-elimination tournament.
The star of this game was 23 year-old Colombian starting pitcher Karl Triana, who pitched in the Diamondbacks system from 2011 to 2013. Triana pitched six innings without allowing a single hit to the Panamanian lineup that included major league veteran Carlos Ruiz. Triana did allow one unearned run in the third inning after a leadoff walk and a throwing error by Mets second baseman Dilson Herrera. Other than that, Triana struck out eight Panamanian hitters and only walked that one batter.
Colombia put together a four-run rally on four singles and a double in the top of the third inning which turned out to be enough. Colombia tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning. The first came on a solo home run by Twins minor league outfielder Reynaldo Rodriguez, and the other run on a double by Royals farmhand Mauricio Ramos.
Triana left the game after six innings because he hit his pitch count limit and Padres top prospect Javier Guerra broke up the no-hitter in the seventh inning with a monster solo home run, his second in as many days. Panama would get a mini-rally going in the ninth inning, scoring a run on an RBI single by Ruiz, but that was all they would get.
In the game between the two one-loss teams in Panama earlier, France scored three runs in the first and two in the third and hung on to beat Spain, 5-3. It was France's first win ever in WBC play. The loss eliminates Spain from the tournament.
In the top of the first inning, France scored three runs on three straight two-out singles. The first came from Athletics minor league catcher Andy Paz, followed by Ernesto Martinez and Douglas Rodriguez.
Martinez would single home two more runs with one out in the third inning. Rodriguez then doubled to right field and the 42 year-old catcher Martinez hustled around the bases and beat the throw home. However, in his hustle to get home, Martinez failed to touch third base and was called out on appeal.
There was some worry that the lost run would end up costing France. The French relief pitchers had trouble throwing strikes and would walk in a run in both the fifth and sixth innings. But both times Spain would leave the bases loaded with no further damage.
Spain then loaded the bases again in the eighth inning and scored a run on a passed ball to cut France's lead to 6-3. After another walk loaded the bases, the go-ahead run came to the plate and France manager Eric Gagne called upon closer Pierrick Le Mestre. Le Mestre got a strikeout to end the eighth inning. Le Mestre retired the side in order in the ninth to collect the save and clinch the win.
France will take on host Panama at 8 pm tonight. The winner will take on Colombia on Sunday and the loser will be eliminated.
The host Team Mexico got a scare from the Czech Republic in game one. Last night, they had no problem disposing of Nicaragua 11-0 in a game that ended after seven innings because of the mercy rule.
Five Mexican pitchers combined to allow Nicaragua only four hits. Mexico only had five hits, but they drew seven walks, two hit batsmen and Nicaragua committed three errors.
Former Diamondbacks minor leaguer Agustin Murillo was 2 for 4 with two RBI.
In the first game of the Mexicali Qualifier the Czech Republic staked their claim to being the third-best team in Europe (after Italy and the Netherlands) by crushing Germany 15-3 in a game that ended after eight innings because of the mercy rule.
Germany would take a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly by Reds farmhand Donald Lutz. But the Czech Republic struck back for four runs in the top of the third to take a lead that they would never relinquish.
The Czech Republic batted around in the third inning and got an RBI single by Mike Cervenak, who played ten games with 2008 World Champion Phillies. In the fifth inning, Cervenak had an RBI double. Then as part of a seven-run eighth inning that would end the game early, Cervenak had another RBI double. All in all, Cervenak was 4 for 5 with two doubles and three RBI.
The other hitting hero for the Czech Republic was Indians farmhand Martin Cervenka. Cervenka capped off the scoring in the eighth inning with a grand slam that gave the CR the margin they needed to end the game early. Earlier, Cervenka hit a two-run single in the seventh inning. He was 2 for 5 with six RBI.
The Czech Republic will take on Nicaragua tonight at 8pm. The winner advances to Sunday's final against Mexico.