Ticket Buying Adventure

October 1st, 2011

It appears that in Panama, buying tickets at the stadium is not done.  For special events like the World Cup, you have to go to a Blockbusters, which is a video store, to buy your tickets.  The box seats are $4 with a $1 service charge.  The opening day was a sellout and though I requested tickets for each day I was shutout for Monday.

The line was quite long and the wait was over two hours.  If I had gotten out of there early enough I may have tried to head back to the stadium to buy tickets from a scalper.  While waiting in line and being the typical gringo I asked a few questions.  The surprising thing is Mariano Rivera is not that respected according to those waiting in line.  He has forgotten his Panama roots and become Americanized.  They don’t see him in Panama anymore.  Carlos Lee is well liked because he still visits Panama often.

When myworld went to get something to eat, they had the opening ceremonies on television.  One of the speakers at the event was Carlos Lee.  Carlos played on a team that lost 106 games, while Mariano is in the playoffs.  A Panamanian then had the ceremonies for a baseball game switched to college football in the United States.  Since I was almost done with my food I didn’t protest.

The ceremony dragged on until close to 9 PM, so in hindsight we are glad we did not get a ticket.  After only three hours of real light sleep at the airport we may not have survived the night.

Myworld has a doubleheader for tomorrow.  The afternoon game is Puerto Rico versus Canada and the evening game is Japan versus the United States.  Detailed reports on that game will be tomorrow or Monday morning.

Panama Rips Greece in World Cup Opener

October 2nd, 2011

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.

Rounding out the rest of the field

October 2nd, 2011

Now that the tournament has started, myworld will not have the opportunity to break out the other rosters, but below is a summary of the rest of the teams.

Italy

Outlook - Italy is one of the better European teams, but they have yet to finish in a top three.  Prior to traveling to Panama they played four games in Vero Beach, Florida, finishing 2-2 against the instructional teams of the Washington Nationals and the Florida Marlins.  The highlight of this team is that one of their coaches will be Mike Piazza, who has hit more homeruns as a catcher than any player in baseball.  Jairo Ramos is their big slugger to watch.  They will be happy just to advance to the next round.

Record: 52-104

Top Three Finishes: None

Puerto Rico

Outlook: Puerto Ricans blame the major leagues for the decline of baseball in Puerto Rico.  Ever since the major leagues included Puerto Ricans in the draft, the level of play has declined.  Most high schools do not have baseball, so scouts can not watch players develop.  The major leagues can scout players from the Dominican Republic when they are 16, but Puerto Ricans have to wait until they are 18.  The last time Puerto Rico finished in a top three was in 1973, but Cuba was not playing in that event.  Reymond Fuentes is the player to watch on this team.  The Padres obtained him as one of three players in the trade for Adrian Gonzalez.

Record: 153-117

Third Place Finishes: Eight, one first place finish in 1951, four second place finishes (1947, 1948, 1973 and 1976) and three third place finishes (1952, 1965, 1970 and 1973).  They played in both tournaments in 1973, when one tournament was played without Cuba.

South Korea

Outlook: Like Japan, Korea is in the middle of their professional season so the players are usually university or minor league type players.  They finished in second place in 2005.  They actually won the event in 1982 and are the last team to win as Olympic champions.  In the World Baseball Classic they finished in second place, but both the Olympics and WBC were played with their professional players.  Not much to say about these players since myworld is unfamiliar with their names.

Record: 91-58

Third Place Finishes: Eight, one first place finish in 1982 and five second place finishes (1980, 1986, 1994, 1998 and 2005) with two third place finishes (1978 and 1990)

Venezuela

Outlook: Before the arrival of the Asian teams and the increased competetiveness of the United States team, Venezuela was always the second best team just after Cuba.  Now that many of their top players are competing in the United States, they have not been as competetive.  Their last top three finish was in 1973, but that was a weakened event with two World Cups in that one year.  Not a lot of hope for a top three finish this year, though Luis Sojo is managing the team.

Record: 134 - 80

Third Place Finishes: Nine, three first place finishes in 1941, 1944 and 1945, two second place finishes in 1951 and 1953 and four third place finishes in 1942, 1950, 1961 and 1973

Nicaragua

Outlook: Another competetive team in days gone by, before soccer began replacing baseball in the passion of the young kids. They did take a second place finish in 1990. They have yet to win the World Cup, but they have had a lot of second place finishes. It will be an upset to see them finish in the top three this year.

Record: 160-124

Top Three Finishes: Nine, five second place finishes (1939, 1940, 1973, 1974 and 1990) and four third place finishes (1947, 1953, 1971 and 1972)

Greece

Outlook: They lost the opener to Panama. They would be happy just getting a win. Greece is managed by ex-major leaguer James Essian. They qualified for this tournament by surprising the European field and finishing fourth. This is their first appearance in a World Cup tournament.

Record: 0-0

Third Place Finishes: None

Taiwan

Outlook - Another Asian giant, but in this case because of gambling issues in their professional league, the best players may be those playing in the minor leagues in the United States or in colleges or industrial leagues. Many Taiwan youth are a little hesitant about playing in the Taiwan professional league because of the taint of the last two gambling scandals.  It has been since 2001 when they made their last top three finish.  They could be a surprise competitor in this world cup.  Their National team gave Cuba fits in the Honkball tournament, beating them for the championship, then just missing out in the championship match against Cuba in a Canadian tournament.  Myworld expects them to compete for that third spot.

Record: 91-72

Third Place Finishes: four, one second place finish in 1984 and three third place finishes in 1986, 1988 and 2001.

Dominican Republic

Outlook: This is another team that should be better than their roster, but the major leagues has most of their good players.  They do have a roster full of ex-major league veterans, so depending on their motivation and what kind of shape they are in, they should be competetive.  Their last taste of glory was in 1969, when they finished third.

Record: 120-87

Third Place Finishes: six, one first place finish in 1948, three second place finishes (1942, 1950 and 1952) and two third place finishes in 1943 and 1969.

Germany

Outlook: Germany is gaining on the two European strongholds Italy and Netherlands and is perhaps the third best European team.  Their roster is young, but it is talented, with Kai Gronauer and Max Kepler two of the talents to watch.  The German veteran to put them in their place is Dominik Wulf.  While their record would indicate a patsy, this is a team with much improved players that do not reflect their 2-33 overall World Cup record.

Record: 2-33

Third Place Finishes: None

Panama

Outlook: The host of the tournament.  They could be encouraged by the home town crowd to outperform their skills.  They did win their opener against Greece 8-3, but the schedule makers are kind.  They usually schedule the weakest team against the host in the opening game.  Time will tell whether their bats continue to sizzle.  They have had some recent success with a third place finish in 2005 and a second place finish in 2003. Myworld will predict that they will be the surprise team of the tournament, especially when you hear the enthusiasm of the crowd at the game.

Record: 130-112

Third Place Finishes: Three, one second place finish in 2003 and two third place finishes (1945 and 2005)

Canada Mauls Puerto Rico

October 3rd, 2011

After getting swept pretty badly in four exhibition games against Cuba, the Puerto Rico team did not look good against Canada either.  The Canada bats jumped on Efrain Nieves quickly, Brock Kjeldgaard slicing a one out double into the gap in left center.  Back to back walks loaded the bases to Tim Smith, who bounced a single right up the middle.  The ball skipped by Rey Fuentes glove in centerfield, allowing the second run to score. Shawn Bowman grounded to short, but Puerto Rico was deep and sacrificed the run for the out.  They were quickly down 3-0 in the top of the first and could not recover.

Andrew Albers was almost perfect for Canada.  He allowed a leadoff single to Reymond Fuentes and didn’t allow any hits after that, walking two.  Jimmy Van Ostrand launched a homerun into left field to make it 4-0.  Efrain Nieves could only last three innings and turned the ball over to Tomas Santiago.  He pitched well his first two innings of work, but a Cole Armstrong shot that just hit the foul pole gave Canada a 6-0 lead.

Miguel Mejia came on in releif in the seventh and struck out the side.  Unfortunately for him, he gave up four hits and a wild pitch in the four run inning that collected the three whiffs.  That put the Canadians up 9-0.  Puerto Rico scored their only run when Neftali Soto doubled and after two out Christian Vasquez drives him in with a single.

The Canada pen trotted out three guys to shut down the Puerto Rico bats.   They were Mike Johnson, Scott Richmond and Dustin Molleken.

Box score for the game can be found here: http://ibaf.prod.kgroup.eu/stats/2011/panama/games/02.htm

Game Notes: Reymond Fuentes had a rough day for Puerto Rico.  He let a ball slip through his glove in the first inning for an error as he was trying to gun the runner at home and then he got picked off at first in the third inning.  Michael Crouse looks good in a scout kind of way, but he also had a rough day, striking out in his first three at bats, before lining a single in the eighth.  It appears that any kind of hook or slow speed stuff has him swinging and missing.  We’ll see if he can adjust as the tournament progresses, because there will be a lot of these slow, curveball type of pitchers at this tournament…Tim Smith was thrown out at third on a steal after not sliding.  Either he thought he was faster than he is or he expected Shawn Bowman to swing at the 1-1 pitch and make contact…Myworld will give Neftali Soto a thumbs up for a split stretch in the sixth.  That was a stretch you usually will only see with cheerleaders…Wilberto Ortiz could have tried to turn two in the eighth but he forgot the number of outs.  When he stepped on second he trotted to the dugout..Adalberto Flores needs to show a little more hustle trying to get to first.  He was very late in covering on a Marcus Knecht ground ball and the first baseman had no hope in getting the hitter out.  That was evidence of the lack of fundamentals the Puerto Rican team showed all day.

United States/Japan Washed out

October 3rd, 2011

It looked like a water polo even at Rod Carew Stadium after a torrential downpour washed out the game.

panama-day-one-006.JPG

The stadium is 312 along the line, with 400 feet in centerfield.  There are large foul areas.  With a lot of rain comes a lot of puddles in the stairways and stands.  Beer and water are only a dollar, a bargain when you compare them to major league rates.  The pizza is not something you would write home mom about.

Cuba Pounces on Australia

October 3rd, 2011

In other games that myworld did not attend, a brief description of the game below:

Cuba 14 Australia 0

The Cubans showed their powerful bats by battering the Australian pitchers for four long balls. Hector Olivera, Freidrich Cepeda, Yuliesky Gourriel and even the light hitting Erisbel Arruebarruena all went deep. Cepeda had a 2-run homer in the opening frame, and then Cuba broke it open in the sixth with Arruebarruena’s grand slam and a 2-run shot by Olivera to make it 8-0. Gourriel hit a 2-run homer in the sixth and then Cuba collected four hits to score the final four runs to complete the rout. Freddy Alvarez went the first six innings and gave up only three hits, striking out four without giving up a walk. The Aussies threw Dushan Ruzic and he was not up to the task.

Netherlands 2 Taiwan 1

In one of the more competetive games, the Netherlands may have pulled a mild upset with their 2-1 win over a strong Taiwan team. The Netherlands started National’s minor leaguer Shairon Martis and he shut down the Taiwanese bats for seven innings, giving up only one run. This is a continuation of his resurgence this past year for the Nationals. Tom Stuifbergen shut down the Taiwan bats in the last two innings, giving up only one hit and striking out four.

Vince Rooi provided the only offense the Netherlands needed with a 2-run single in the second inning. Taiwan scratched together the only three hits they got off Martis to score their only run in the fourth. If not for the fourth inning and a walk in the sixth Martis would have been perfect. Taiwan never got a runner past second base.

Nicaragua 5 Germany 4

Nicaragua overcame a feisty German team, beating them 5-4. They scored four of their runs in the first inning, taking advantage of a nervous German team that committed five errors in the opening frame. Four of the errors were made by third baseman Ludwig Glaser. After that inning the Germans settled down and did not commit another error. Donald Lutz cracked a homerun in the second to make it 4-1 and they tied it 4-4, the inning started on a single by Glaser. The big hit was the bases clearing 3-run double by Jendrick Speer. Nicaragua bolted ahead to stay on a leadoff double by Jilton Calderon. He advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a fly ball out. Germany was never really able to mount a rally after the fourth. Luis Saenz tossed the last two innings to pick up the save.

Venezuela 5 South Korea 4

Venezuela got an infield ground out and an infield single to score two runs in the eighth inning to beat South Korea 5-4. Except for a two out single, Gabriel Alfaro struck out the side to pick up the save for Venezuela. Ronald Acuna had a solo homerun and two RBIs and Yonathan Sivera had two RBIs for Venezuela.

Dominican Republic 7 Italy 0

Angel Castro shut down the Italian bats on just one hit in six innings of work, striking out seven. Italy got their lone hit in the fifth inning. The Dominican Republic put this game away in the seventh inning, scoring five runs, a grand slam from Victor Mendez the big blow. Tia da Silva pitched well, giving up only two runs, one earned, but the bullpen let it get away in the end.

The game schedule and the results for all the games can be found here: http://www.ibaf.org/en/competition/e4dbf607-4cbe-4b8e-a07b-274157b24e33/results

Figueroa with the Slam Upsets United States

October 4th, 2011

The United States had just rallied from a 4-2 deficit by scoring two runs when Luis Figeroa ended their joy with a grand slam homerun into left field in the top of the tenth to give Puerto Rico an 8-4 upset win over United States.  After losing four exhibition games to Cuba and then getting trounced by Canada in the World Cup open the win had to feel pretty good for Puerto Rico.

Todd Redmond dug the United States into a hole early by giving up three singles and a walk to the first four batters he faced.  Hiram Bocachica’s single drove in Reymond Fuentes whose slide cut down the legs of Travis D’Arnaud.  The throw sailed to the backstop and Travis lay on the ground for a minute, before gingerly getting up and continuing play.  A single by Neftali Soto drove in one more and Jose Valentin hit a sacrifice fly to make it 3-0.

Julio Rodriguez was brilliant for Puerto Rico.  His curveball had the United States swinging and missing for seven strikeouts.  Julio did not give up a hit until a single in the fourth.  He was removed after a one out walk to Bret Jackson.

While Puerto Rico’s offense died until the ninth, the United States squandered many opportunities to score.  In the opening frame after a walk and hitbatsman they had runners on first and second with just one out but failed to score.  In the third they had first and second with two out and Jordan Danks ripped a deep drive to left center that Reymond Fuentes chased down.  They had the bases loaded with two out when Chad Tracy grounded to short.  All told, the United States stranded 16 runners through the first 9 innings.

Puerto Rico scored in the fifth on a 2-out bases loaded single from Joe Thurston.  It was the second time that manager Jose Flores had brought in a lefty to face Thurston and it was the second time that he got a hit.  Brett Carroll struck out with runners on second and third and two outs to end the rally.

Puerto Rico appeared to have shifted the momentum in the ninth when Hiram Bocachica blasted one over the left fielders head for a double.  With one out he advanced to third on a ground out.  Randy Williams came on in relief and Jesus Feliciano ripped his first pitch between first and third for an RBI single and a 4-2 lead.

Going into the ninth Jose Flores stuck with Juan Padilla, even though he had pitched over two innings.  After a single and a walk put runners on first and second Mike Mendonca bunted them over.  Adalberto Flores replaced Padilla and he gave up a gapper to Travis d’ArnaudReymond Fuentes dove for the ball, but it glanced off his glove, scoring Matt Clark.  Pinch runner A.J. Pollock could only advance to third.  Jordan Danks was walked intentionally to load the bases.  Jody Mercer hit a slow grounder to third and Jeffry Dominguez threw it high to the catcher.  Pollock slid into home as Christian Vasquez had to leave his feet to catch the ball.  That tied the game 4-4 with just one out to Bret Jackson.  With the outfield in all he had to do was lift one deep into the outfield.  Jackson grounded to first, the throw beating the runner home.  Joe Thurston popped to short to end the rally.

That brought the extra frame.  Everyone was expecting the bunt and Reymond Fuentes lay a beautiful one down.  It appeared that Randy Williams stumbled as he tried to get the ball and the lead runner at third.  Instead he got nobody.  Randy Williams ran the count full and Luis Figueroa connected on a pitch that sailed over the left field fence.

Game Notes: Interesting that United States manager Ernie Young chose to put Joe Thurston and Brett Carroll, their number two and three hitters on base.  Usually your number three hitter is your best stick, but perhaps the three whiffs in his last three at bats influenced Young.  The three batters that Ernie chose to hit in that spot could not drive the ball past the pitcher’s mound, striking out, fouling a ball to the catcher and grounding out to the pitcher…Julio Rodriguez showed myworld the best bender of the tournament…Julio lost his no hitter in the fourth. With one out, catcher Christian Vasquez misjudged a popup and the ball fell harmlessly behind him. Given a reprieve Chad Tracy ripped a single over shortstop…Julio also did a good job mixing his curveball and fastball real well…Jody Mercer had three whiffs in his first three at bats. Myworld was looking for a pinchhit when he came up with the bases loaded and one out.  Jody grounded a weak grounder to third, who made the high throw to home, Pollock sliding into home safely to tie the score…Chad Tracy ripped a foul ball that traveled just to the left of the foul pole in the seventh inning. If the ball had stayed fair the United States would have taken a 4-3 lead. ..Juan Padilla has an excellent pickoff move to first…The United States offense had struck out 13 times after eight innings, getting their 14th in the tenth…Scott Patterson appeared to have an all arm type of delivery.  It looks ugly to watch…There is a good chance that Puerto Rico does not advance to the second round.  If they don’t and the United States does, they do not have to transfer that loss with them.  If the Puerto Rico does advance, then the United States gets tagged with a loss.

Canada Downs Japan; Remains Undefeated

October 4th, 2011

Canada extended their good pitching with a 3-1 win over Japan.  This time out it was ex-National Shawn Hill working five innings to get the win.  He limited the Japan bats to just three hits, all but one of the infield variety.  The farthest the ball traveled into the outfield after a Japan bat met the ball is after Hill overthrew first and it traveled near the right field corner.

Canada also had some difficulty making contact off Japanese submariner Hirofumi Yamanaka.  He struck out seven in his four plus innings of work, but he gave up all three runs.  He walked the leadoff hitter Skyler Stromsmoe in the opening frame to get things started for Canada.  Skyler got a huge jump reading the underhand delivery, stole second and was driven in on a double by Jimmy Van Ostrand, a hit that sailed over the centerfielder’s head.  He may have been playing Japanese hitter shallow.  The double scored Skyler for the first run.

Hirofumi then retired the next nine hitters, but with two out in the fourth he gave up a single to Tim Smith, a double to Shawn Bowman that moved Smith to third and another double to Cole Armstrong to plate both runners.  That put Canada up 3-0.  A walk to fifth inning leadoff batter Jonathan Malo ended the day for Hirofumi.

Japan finally mounted a rally off reliever Jay Johnson, courtesy of a leadoff walk to Yoshinobu KotegawaTakayoshi Kawabata pinch hit and advanced Kotegawa to second with a bunt.  A ground out to short moved the runner to third and Toshiyuki Hayoshi slapped a tough one hopper to Skyler at second, who couldn’t handle it.  They ruled it an error and Japan had their first run without getting the ball out of the infield.  A walk ended the day for Johnson and Chris Kissock got Kenichi Matoba to ground to short for the final out.

Kawabata got the hardest hit for Japan when he was allowed to swing the bat in the eighth inning.  He ripped a single to right field.  After a 2-out walk to Keiji Ikebe put runners at first and second Jimmy Henderson came on to get Kenichi Matoba to ground to short again to end another rally.  Henderson pitched the ninth to pick up the save and Matoba will be having nightmares about 6-4 ground outs.

The Canadian team did not assault the Japan pitchers like they did the Puerto Rican pitchers a day earlier.  They only managed six hits, but it was enough to get them the win.  Not a lot of velocity to their pitches, but a little hop to their breaking pitches.  With the United States loss Canada now has to enter as the favorite to win the bracket in Group A.

Game Notes: A little frustrating in Panama to be let in the gate at 1:59 for a 2 PM start.  The reason for the late start was the late arrival of the military to properly allow the fans into the stadium.  So as the players were being introduced, no one had yet to be allowed in the stadium.  There were only 50 of us if my count was right, many arriving after the game had started…There is bit of a clash of the manana mentality of Central America and the start on time ideals of the Europeans at work here.  Panamanian fans are probably a little shocked to show up at 2:30 for a 2 PM game to see that it has already started.  My hunch is that if the military showed up at 2:30 to secure the field the game would have started without the fans…They handed out the latest Baseball America magazine, which few Panamanians could read because of their inability to read English and a Mundial de Beisbol, which I will have trouble reading because of my inability to read Spanish.  But we both flipped through the magazine and looked at the pictures…They also handed out IBAF hats.  It might have been wiser to hand the hats out at a announced scheduled date as a kind of hat day to attract the fans, instead of randomly giving them to the few in attendance.  Of course it is difficult to say you will give out hats to the first 200 in attendance and people show up early, but are not allowed in the ballpark until game time…Michael Crouse continues his problems with contact.  He struck out twice today, giving him five whiffs in seven at bats…Jimmy Van Ostrand had an RBI double.  He has been the most impressive hitter of the group that myworld has seen…Canadian shortstop Jonathan Malo has made a couple stellar defensive plays…The Japanese sensibilities must be challenged.  They are so used to bringing their trash from their seats to the trash receptacles.  The trash receptacles at Rod Carew stadium are cardboard boxes or large plastic trash bags that are usually overflowing with trash and flies…A foul ball created some broken glass in the press area.  That created quite a buzz.  No plexiglass at Rod Carew…The Canadians broke up a double play possibility with a hard slide into the second baseman that knocked him where the sun don’t shine.  He was shaken up but did not leave the game…A ground ball to first should have resulted in two, but the Japanese firstbaseman Kenichi Matoba threw to second for one but the throw to first was too late.  The alternative was the easy step on first tag and the throw to second, which would have created a tag play, but it was the only option they had for turning two.  That could be the Japanese style of taking the sure out, or a mental blunder by the first baseman…It appears the official box score forgot to insert Takayoshi Kawabata in the game after he pinch hit for Mitsugu Kitamichi in the sixth inning.

Other Games Day Three World Cup

October 4th, 2011

Italy 7 Australia 0

Other than the Puerto Ricans beating the United States, this may have been one of the biggest upsets of the day.  Christopher Cooper silenced the Italian bats for six plus innings, yielding three hits and three walks.  Justin Cicatello was able to get an out on a first and third situation in the seventh to end the Aussies last threat and a chance to avoid the upset.  The Italian bats awoke off Aussie ace Chris Oxspring in the third, Jairo Ramos getting the big hit with a 2-run double that drove in the final two runs.  Mario Chiarini also had an RBI double in the inning.  He would finish with two doubles in the game.

Netherlands 19 Greece 0

The Netherlands showed their European counterparts how far they still have to go in this game with a five inning 19-0 whitewash.  Juan Carlos Sulbaran only needed 56 pitches to get the complete game five inning shutout.  There were a number of big bats for the Netherlands.  Curt Smith went 3 for 3 with four runs scored and three runs driven in, including a double and one of three homeruns hit by the Dutch.  Didi Gregorius and Danny Rombley hit the other homeruns.  Dwayne Kemp drove in four runs with three hits from his leadoff spot and Vince Rooi also drove in three runs with his three hits.  Despite the 19 runs, the Schoop brothers, Jonathan and Sharlon combined to go 0 for 6.  After a 0-0 scoreless first inning the Netherlands erupted for 17 runs in the next two innings to take command.

Cuba 3 Dominican Republic 0

Norberto Gonzalez shut down the Dominican bats on three hits in seven innings.  Cuba scored three runs in the sixth, all after a 2-out error by shortstop Antonio MateoYulieski Gourriel drove in the first run with a single and Alexei Bell crushed a double to drive in the last two runs.  Willy Lebron took the hard luck loss for the Dominican Republic.

Panama 14 Taiwan 8

Panama remained impressive with their bats, raking 18 hits off an outmatched Taiwan staff.  Panamanian veteran Fernando Seguinol got the crowd started with a grand slam homerun in the opening frame.  In the third inning Carlos Quiroz stroked a bases clearing 3-run double to put Panama up 7-1.  Joel Vega clubbled a 3-run homer in the sixth to finish off the scoring for Panama.  Taiwan battled back with homeruns from leadoff hitter Han Lin and Chih Pei Huang, but the pitching staff had dug them too big a hole.  Both Vega and Seguinol finished the game off with three hits each.  The 2-0 start for Panama should assure sellouts for their remaining games.

Venezuela 5 Nicaragua 2

Venezuela gave Nicaragua their first loss, going 2-0 in the process.  Carlos Mory scattered nine hits to get the win, pitching six plus innings.  Wuillians Vasquez slugged a solo homerun and drove in two, while Saul Torres also drove in two to contribute to the offense for Venezuela.  Nicaragua got a solo homerun from Jose Guido for one of their two runs.  Venezuela stranded 10 baserunners, so Nicaragua was fortunate that this game was so close.

South Korea 6 Germany 5

It took 10 innings but another tough one run loss for Germany.  Korea evened their record to 1-1.  No box scores for this one as of this writing.

Samsung Lions Win the KBO Regular Season

October 4th, 2011

For the first time in five years the Samsung Lions won the regular season title, being led by rookie manager Ryu Joong-il.  They are now 8.5 games ahead of the second place Lotte Giants as they finish out the rainout games.  The team was led by closer Oh Seung-Wan, who returned from elbow surgery to put up some impressive numbers (1-0, 0.65, 45 saves).  He was perfect in save situations.  Choi Hyung-woo has been the big bat for the Lions (.331, 29, 106).

In the last 20 years, 17 of the last 20 regular season champions have gone on to win the Korean series.  The first round of the series begins on October 8th between the third and fourth place teams in the KBO.  That appears to be the SK Wyverns and the Kia Tigers, though only two games separate the second through fourth place teams.

Go to http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/sports/2011/10/136_95665.html for complete article.