European Teams Bounced out of Qualifiers

The four European teams playing for a World Baseball Classic bid in qualifiers in Panama and Mexico were eliminated. Germany and Spain were the first to go. The Czech Republic and France were eliminated yesterday after eliminating their brethren the day before. That leaves four South and Central American teams left to duel it out in the finals. Four teams, Brazil, Pakistan, Israel and Great Britain will battle it out in Brooklyn in November giving Europe one more chance to have a country other than Netherlands and Italy represent them in the World Baseball Classic.

Nicaragua hung on to beat the Czech Republic 7-6, taking 11 innings to do it. With the international tie breaking rules in effect runners were placed on first and second. In a predictable fashion the Nicaraguans pulled off a successful sacrifice bunt to move the runners up one base, except Janier Montas reached first to load the bases. Renato Morales drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center. A single by Omar Obregon scored two to give Nicaragua a 7-4 lead.

In the bottom of the 11th down by three the Czech Republic ignored the bunt and Martin Cervenka lined a single to center to load the bases. A walk scored one run and with the bases loaded and no outs Jose Saenz replaced Jonathan Loaisiga on the mound. A ground out to short retired the first hitter, but failed to turn two allowing the second run to score and pull the Czechs to within one. Loaisiga struck out Tomas Junec and Petr Sila to end the game.

The Czech Republic got off to a quick lead when Jacob Malik blasted a three run homer over the centerfield fence in the first inning to give the Czechs an early 3-0 lead. Their next run in regulation time would not come until the fifth. The Nicaraguans helped them out with the run with two walks and a wild pitch. Mike Cervenak drove in the run with a ground out that extended the Czech lead to 4-2.

The Czech pitcher Daniel Mraz had shut out Nicaragua for the first four innings. The fifth inning would see the walls of zeroes come crashing down. Elmer Reyes started the inning with a single but he was quickly picked off first by Mraz. Two walks by Mraz and a wild pitch put runners on first and third with one out. A ground out to Mraz scored the first Nicaraguan run and advance a runner to second. A throwing error by third baseman Premek Chroust scored the second run. Alex Sogard replaced Mraz and struck out Dwight Britton to end the inning.

Dwight Britton made up for the whiff in the eighth with a two out double. Another throwing error by the Czechs, this one by shortstop Petr Zyma allowed Britton to score to pull Nicaragua to within one. Renato Morales slashed an infield single to short with another throwing error, this one by firstbaseman Mike Cervenak to tie the game. The Czechs were able to end the inning after an infield single by Omar Obregon, but this time Cervenak threw out Morales when he tried to score from second.

The Czechs had an opportunity to go ahead in the bottom frame after a Jakub Malik double put runners on second and third with one out. Nicaragua chose to pitch to Martin Cervenka and Carlos Gonzalez struck him out. Tomas Polansky was walked intentionally to load the bases. Pete Zyma flew out to end the threat.

With Mexico waiting in the winner’s bracket only 6,558 showed up to watch their potential opponent in the final. That opponent will be a rematch against Nicaragua.

While down in Panama only 2,016 showed up to see their team beat France 7-4 to make it to the finals against Colombia. A bases loaded walk in the seventh inning broke a 4-4 tie.

The day started out well for France. A Felix Brown single and a Frederic Hanvi double in the first inning gave the French a quick 1-0 lead. An Andy Paz sacrifice fly scored the second run in the opening frame.

France scored their third run in the fourth on a bases loaded balk to extend their lead to 3-0. Two walks and an infield single loaded the bases. One of the walks was intentional after a ground out had advance the runners to second and third.

That lead was quickly evaporated in the fifth. A one out infield single by Jorge Bishop got the rally started for Panama. Bishop stole second where he scored on a Isaias Velasquez single. A single by Edmundo Sosa and a walk to Anthony Amaya loaded the bases with one out. The French replaced Yoann Vaugelade with Antoine Villard. A ground out to first scored the second run when France could not turn two. Antoine Villard was intentionally walked to load the bases again. Panama got a break when second baseman Frederic Walter dropped a foul popup for an error. Javier Guerra walked to tie the game and Luis Castillo walked to put Panama up front 4-3.

France tied the game in the bottom frame with a one out homerun from Rene Leveret. That would end all the scoring for France. They could only scratch out singles in the seventh and eighth innings, but could get nobody past first in the final four innings.

Panama broke the tie in the seventh courtesy of three walks, one intentionally to break the tie and give Panama the lead. It appears in international ball the managers overthink the situation and have a greater number of intentional walks than in the major leagues. A one out double from Jonathan Saavedra led to an intentional walk to Carlos Ruiz. After Javier Guerra popped out this appeared to be a good move but Luis Castillo walked to load the bases and Carlos Quiroz walked to force in the go ahead run.

Panama got a couple insurance runs in the eighth. A walk to Isaias Velasquez and a stolen base led to another intentional walk, this one to Anthony Amaya. It didn’t work. Jonathan Saavedra singled to load the bases bringing up Carlos Ruiz with no place to put him. They walked him to force in a run. A ground out when France again failed to turn two allowed the seventh run to score to make it 7-4.

Panama will advance to face Colombia to seek revenge for an earlier loss. Hopefully more than 2,016 show up to watch this game.

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