(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
BB Americas Qualifier: First win Nicaragua; Cuba eliminated
PORT ST. LUCIE / WEST PALM BEACH, Florida (USA) -
On Tuesday (June 1), Nicaragua recorded its first victory of the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier, which opened on Monday in Florida.
On that day, Nicaragua lost to the USA.
On Day 2, Venezuela nipped Colombia 3-2, which was shutout and No-Hit by Canada on Monday.
Nicaragua nipped Puerto Rico 7-6.
Venezuela won in the ninth inning, Nicaragua in the tenth.
Venezuela also opened on Monday with an one-run win against Cuba.
For Puerto Rico, this is also is it second loss, as the team also lost on Day 1 against the Dominican Republic.
The winner of the Americas Qualifier becomes the fifth team to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The teams that finish in second and third place will advance to the Baseball Final Qualier, which recently was moved from Taiwan to Mexico.
That event begins on June 22.
In Port St. Lucie, Venezuela scored twice in the fifth nning, but Colombia came alongside by scoring a run in the eighth and ninth inning.
In the fifth, Alexander Antonio Palma Machado led off with a single, then Luis Ricardo Castro Pirela walked.
The two advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Ramon Emilio Flores Devia.
After a pitching change, both scored when a grounder by next batter Hernán Alejandro Pérez Bolivar ended in an error.
In the top of the eighth, Derwin Dix Pomare Martinez and Jerry Darren Downs Mitchell led off for Colombia with singles.
The runners also moved via a sacricfice bunt, which was put down by Brallan Andres Perez Blanco.
Just as in the Venezuelan fifth inning, a pitching change followed.
Pomare then scored on a grounder by Brayan Buelvas Durango.
Colombia came alongside in the top of the ninth.
New pitcher Adrián José Almeida Mendoza struckout Jeter Deion Downs Mitchell, who is a prospect in the Boston Red Sox-organization.
After Downs was struckout, Colombian Manager Jair Fernandez came out of the dug-out to have a conversation with Italian Home Plate Umpire Fabrizio Fabrizi.
The umpiring crew then got together and went on to inspect the glove of the lefthanded Almeida.
Apparently, something illegal was found, as Almeida was ejected.
Gabriel José Moya Barrios took over and was greeted with a homerun by Jordan David Diaz Sandoval, which tied the score!
Next batter Andres Santiago Angulo Castro was hit by a pitch, which led to the next pitching change.
Moisés Antonio Gómez Gómez took over and closed the at bat with a strikeout and flyout.
In the bottom of the ninth, Diego Alejandro Rincones led off for Venezuela with a walk-off homerun!
In West Palm Beach, Puerto Rico trailed 2-0 halfway the second inning, then rallied for five runs.
The next five at bats remained scoreless, then Nicaragua came alongside in the top of the eighth by scoring three runs.
After a scoreless ninth inning, the game went into extra innings with the use of the tie-break rule, meaning runners started on first and second base.
Nicaragua then took a 7-5 lead by scoring two runs in the top of the tenth.
Puerto Rico could add only one more run in its tenth at bat.
A 2-out single by Jilton Arnoldo Calderón Palacios in the first ining and a lead-off homerun by Luis José Alen Salazar in the second at bat gave Nicaragua an early lead.
Puerto Rico then answered with five runs in the bottom of the second inning.
Jesmuel José Valentin Diaz hit a 2-run homerun to tie the score.
Hereafter, Ivan De Jesus, Jr. added a 2-run double and scored himself on a single by Noel Cuevas.
A double by Benjamin Jordin Alegria Norori and a 2-run single by Edgard Antonio Montiel made it a 5-5 score in the eighth inning to also turn this game into a thriller.
In the top of the tenth, Nicaragua took the lead when Ofilio Antonio Castro Lechado scored on a wild pitch.
Another run was then added on a sacrifice fly by Juan Diego Montes Incer.
In the bottom of the tenth, Puerto Rico made it a 7-6 score on a grounder by Ruben Castro, but was left empty-handed.
In the evening, Canada and Cuba faced each other in Port St. Lucie, while the Dominican Republic and the USA would meet in West Palm Beach.
Canada nipped Cuba 6-5 in what was a thrilling game.
Canada opened the score early with three runs in the first inning and added a run in the fourth.
Halfway the seventh inning, the North Americans led 5-1.
Cuba then scored twice in its seventh, but Canada then added an important insurance run in the top of the eighth.
Trailing 6-3, Cuba narrowed the deficit to 6-5, but suffered its second loss.
A double by Eric Wood and singles by Connor Panas and Kellin Deglan accounted for the three Canadian runs in the first inning.
Panas added a RBI-single in the fourth.
After Cuba scored its first run in the fifth inning on a double play-grounder by Yordanis Samon, Canada got the run back in the seventh when Michael Crouse homered.
A grounder by Yadir Orestes Mujica Diaz and a single by Yordanis Samon gave Cuba two runs in the bottom of the seventh.
Hereafter, Canada scored what would be the deciding run in the eighth on a single by Jacob Robson.
In the bottom of the ninth, Cuba had two baserunners with one out.
A sacrifice fly by veteran Frederich Cepeda then brought in a run and led to a pitching change.
With two outs, new pitcher John Axford saw Cuba score another run when Yordanis Samon reached on an error.
But with a runner on first base, Axford closed the game with a strikeout.
With this loss, Cuba was eliminated for the Super Round.
That means that for the first time, Cuba will not participate in an Olympic Baseball Tournament since the sport was an official medal sport in 1992.
Because of this win, both Canada and Venezuela reached the Super Round.
The USA also recorded a small victory, winning 8-6 against the Dominicans.
The Americans failed to hold onto an early lead and trailed 5-4 halfway the sixth inning, but then rallied for four runs to turn the game around again.
The USA opened the score with two runs in the first inning thanks to a double by Triston Casas.
The Dominicans got a run back in the second when Juan Francisco homered, but the USA added two runs in the fourth on a 2-run homerun by Mark Kolozsvary.
The Dominicans then scored twice in both the fifth and sixth inning to take a 5-4 lead.
In the fifth, the runs were scored on a triple by Emilio Bonifacio and in the sixth on a homerun by Diego Goris.
In the bottom of the sixth, Team USA scored four runs, which was done on a runscoring single by Logan Forsythe, a fielder's choice-grounder by Nick Allen and a 2-run triple by Luke Williams.
The Dominican Republic managed to score one more run in the ninth when Juan Francisco hit his second homerun.
With the win, the USA advanced to the Super Round of the tournament.
WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier opens in Florida; No-Hitter Canada. (May 31)