Thursday, January 28, 2016

Tobis stumble in 8th, lose 4-2 to Panama City in LAS

Juan Grijalva (pictured) gave the Acayucan Tobis a masterful seven-plus innings of pitching, but a four-run eighth inning for the Panama City Nacionals broke open a scoreless game as the Nacionals went on to beat the Tobis, 4-2, Wednesday at the Latin American Series in Managua, Nicaragua.

Grijalva and Nacionals starter Eliecer Navarro locked into a classic pitcher's duel as the game remained scoreless through seven frames, but after serving up a one-out Jorge Bishop double in the eighth, Grijalva was pulled in favor of former MLB hurler Manny Corpas (ironically a Pamananian).  Corpas gave up a single to Javier Dominguez that brought Bishop in with the first run of the contest, then walked Rodrigo Vigil and got Jean Carlos Rodriguez to hit a grounder that became the second out of the inning when Dominguez was forced out at third.  Rodrigo Orozco then singled to center field to bring in Vigil while an error on the play allowed Rodriguez to come in all the way from first with the third run of the inning.  Edward Thomas then singled in Orozco to make it a 4-0 game before the inning mercifully ended.

Acayucan came back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the eighth, one on a Karim Garcia solo homer and the other on Jose Castaneda's RBI single, but Panama reliever Franquelis Osorio struck out Pedro Diaz to end the inning and the Tobis rally.  Osorio then pitched a scoreless ninth to nail down the win for the Nacionals.

Despite a superb outing in which he scattered three hits and charged with one run allowed while striking out six in 7.1 innings, Grijalva was saddled with the loss for the Tobis.  Navarro was even better for Panama, going seven shutout stanzas and giving up just two hits and one walk in picking up the win.  Osorio earned the save with 1.1 scoreless innings and three strikeouts.

With the win, Panama City went to 2-0 to clinch at least a berth in Saturday's semifinal with the possibility of a semi bye and a slot in Sunday's LAS championship game.  The Tobis are now tied with the Nicaraguan host Rivas Gigantes for second with 1-1 marks while Colombia's Barranquilla Caimanes bring up the rear at 0-2 after Rivas topped Colombian champ Barranquilla, 4-1, in Wednesday's nightcap.

Acayucan will wrap up their first stage schedule tonight when the Veracruz Winter League champs square off with the host Gigantes at 7:30PM ET in Rivas, as the LAS makes a preplanned one-day shift of venues before returning to Managua's Dennis Martinez National Baseball Stadium Saturday and Sunday.  Panama City and Barranquilla meet in the day's first game.