The finals of both qualifiers are set as two more teams were eliminated yesterday.
Panama City Qualifier
The host Panamanians got a scare from Team France, but in the end Team Panama prevailed with a 7-4 victory.
France took the lead in the bottom of the first inning when center fielder Frederic Hanvi doubled off off the Panamanian starter, Pirates minor leaguer Dario Agrazal. France made it 2-0 two batters later on a sacrifice fly by Athletics minor league catcher Andy Paz.
France made it 3-0 in the fourth inning when reliever Angel Cuan, formerly of the Mets organization, balked in a run with the bases loaded.
Panama would take the lead with a four-run fifth inning. Former Pirates minor league Jorge Bishop singled with one out, stole second and then scored on a single by Isaias Velasquez. An infield single and a walk then loaded the bases and Panama cut France's lead to 3-2 on a ground out by Jonathan Saavedra.
That put runners on second and third with two outs, so Team France intentionally walked Carlos Ruiz, the only major leaguer in this game. That ended up backfiring as France then unintentionally walked the next two batters to give Panama a 4-3 lead.
France tied the game back up 4-4 in the bottom of the fifth on a home run by Rene Leveret. But France's inability to throw strikes would eventually cost them the game. Panama took a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh on a bases-loaded walk to Carlos Quiroz. Panama would tack on two more runs in the eighth inning and then Manny Corpas pitched a perfect ninth inning to preserve a 7-4 win.
French pitchers issued ten walks in this game and struck out nobody, although three of the walks were intentional.
The win sends Panama into tonight's final with Team Colombia, who beat Panama 6-3 earlier in the tournament. The game is at 6pm Chicago time tonight and will be televised on the MLB Network or available for free streaming at worldbaseballclassic.com.
In a thriller that went to the international extra innings rules, Team Nicaragua defeated Team Czech Republic 7-6 in 11 innings.
The Czech Republic was staked to an early 3-0 lead in this game when right fielder Jakub Malik hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the first inning off of former Phillies minor leaguer Berman Espinoza.
Czech Republic mistakes gave Nicaragua two runs in the top of the fifth inning. After a pair of one-out walks by Czech starter Daniel Mraz, a wild pitch put both runners in scoring position. One runner would then score on a wild pitch by Mraz and the next runner scored on what should have been an inning-ending ground out, but third baseman Premek Chroust threw the ball wildly to first, cutting the Czech Republic lead to 3-2.
The Czech Republic would retake one of those runs in the bottom of the inning to make it 4-2 after a couple of walks, a wild pitch and a ground ball. But Nicaragua tied the game up at 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning. With two out, former Mariners farmhand Dwight Britton doubled off Alex Sogard. Britton scored on an error by shortstop Petr Zyma and then Renato Morales tied it up with an RBI single.
The score stayed 4-4 until the 11th inning when the international extra innings rule kicked in. Under international rules, all innings starting with the 11th start with runners on first and second. Leadoff hitter Janoir Montes bunted and the Czech defense made the mistake of trying to nail the lead runner at third base. The runner beat the throw and Nicaragua had the bases loaded with no outs. A sacrifice fly and a two-run single later gave Nicaragua a 7-4 lead.
The first Czech hitter in the bottom of the 11th, Martin Cervenka, singled to load the bases and a bases-loaded walk made it 7-5. Nicaragua manager Carlos Lee then summoned Jose Saenz from the bullpen and Saenz got the first batter to ground out to second base to make it 7-6. Then with the tying run on third and the winning run at second, Saenz struck out the next two batters to win the game.
With the win, Nicaragua will take on Team Mexico in tonight's qualifier final at 9 pm Central. Mexico beat Nicaragua 11-0 earlier in the tournament, so they'll have their work cut out for them. The game will be televised on the MLB Network and available for free streaming at the same places.