Panama Rips Greece in World Cup Opener

In front of a raucous sellout crowd, the home team Panama broke out their bats and clobbered Greece 8-3.  Paolo Espino worked six innings and Conception Rodriguez ripped three hits including the first homerun of the tournament to give Panama the victory.

Paolo started out strong striking out the side in the first inning, benefiting from what appeared to be a large strike zone from the home plate umpire.  All three hitters struck out on his sweeping curveball, the first one looking and the next two swinging.  His control deserted him in the second inning as he walked the leadoff batter and then gave up his first hit to Christoforos Lemonis.  He misplayed a soft grounder hit in front of him, taking too long to make the decision to throw to first, Max Gouoren showing some speed by beating the throw to first.  He hit the next hitter to score the first run and there were still no outs.  A single by Constant Panagotacos scored two, but Alexander Zachos was thrown out trying to advance from first to third to give Panama the break.  The next batter bunted the runner to second, but a ground out ended the inning.  Greek manager James Essian is no fan of Moneyball, i.e. giving away outs with a bunt.

So down 3-0 Panama broke out their bats in the bottom frame.  With one out Rodriguez walked and Carlos Quiroz smacked a rocket to right field that the Greek right fielder Zachos misplayed.  Rodriguez scored and Quiroz scampered to third.  Javier Castillo then bashed a drive over the right fielder’s head for a double and Damaso Espino drove one to the left field fence for another double and the game was tied.

Both pitchers quieted the hitter’s bats until the sixth when Ross Meleches gave up a leadoff single to Fernando Seguinol. A sacrifice bunt moved him to second and Conception Rodriguez broke the tie with a single to right center. Rodriguez advanced to third on an error by the right fielder Zachos. An error by the third baseman put Carlos Quiroz on first and a wild pitch advanced the runners one base. Greek manager Essian chose to walk Javier Castillo intentionally and that gave Damaso Espino the opportunity to break the game wide open with a single to centerfield to score two and put Panama ahead 6-3.  Castillo would score the fourth run of the inning on a fly ball from Luis Castillo.

Rodriguez would homer in the eighth to make it 8-3.  The Greek bats did not mount much of a threat after the second inning, their best opportunity was in the seventh when they put two runners on.  Eliecer Navarro worked two innings of shutout relief for Panama and Gilberto Mendez worked the last inning.

Box score for the game can be found here: http://ibaf.prod.kgroup.eu/stats/2011/panama/games/01.htm

Game Notes: Myworld has only caught one ball at a game.  That ball was hit by Jose Macias.  Jose is playing for Panama…Paolo Espino appears to have a nice curveball that the Greek hitters had difficulty adjusting to.  Myworld will then admit that we were zonked out after the third inning and couldn’t watch the rest of the game.  That is the trouble with watching the game on a comfortable bed after just three hours of sleep the night before.  Today, we will be there for both games, fully rested…It appeared to be a very wild atmosphere at the game.  Today will probably be more sedate with Puerto Rico playing Canada in the day game and Japan playing the United States in the night game.

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