Sunday, March 20, 2016

Mexican Nationals crush Nicaragua, 12-1; qualify for 2017 WBC

Mexico put together two big innings and went on to demolish Nicaragua, 12-1, in Mexicali Sunday to qualify for next year's World Baseball Classic.  The Verde Grande won all three games they played at Estadio B-Air under first-year skipper Edgar Gonzalez, who was named the Mexican Pacific League's Manager of the Year by both BBM and the LMP last month for his work this past winter with the Mexicali Aguilas.

Mexico broke the contest open early with a six-run outburst in the second inning.  Esteban Quiroz opened the gates with a two-run single off Nicaraguan starter Fidencio Flores while Agustin Murillo cleared the bases with a two-out, sacks-loaded triple, converting a 3-and-1 pitch from reliever Carlos Teller into a line drive that got behind center fielder Dwight Britton to cap the scoring for the inning.

Three entradas later, Mexico put another five runs on the board to bring the score to 11-0, an unreachable target for the underpowered Nicaraguans.  Leo Heras and Quiroz had the biggest hits in the fifth: Heras knocked a two-run homer off Teller and Quiroz did the same against the next reliever, Junior Tellez, bracketed around an RBI single from Sebastian Elizalde.  The host team added another run in the bottom of the sixth, courtesy of an Humberto Sosa single that brought in Jose Aguilar.

Nicaragua broke the shutout bid in the top of the seventh when Britton led off with a double off Arturo Barradas, moved to third on a Sandor Guido ground out to second and came in on Elmer Reyes' double to right, putting the score at 12-1.  After Barradas got got Darrel Campbel to fly out to right, Gonzalez brought in Oliver Perez, who induced Wuillians Vasquez to hit an easy fly to center that Perez hauled in to end the game on the ten-run mercy rule, punching Mexico's ticket to their fourth straight World Baseball Classic.

Elizalde, Quiroz and Adrian Gonzalez each hat two hits for Mexico, Quiroz leading the way with four RBI's and two runs scored.  Murillo had just one hit but was still productive at the plate, driving in three with his triple and scoring once.  Hector Daniel Rodriguez pitched the first two innings and was awarded the win as five pitchers took the mound for the winners.

Earlier Sunday in Panama City, Dilson Herrera cracked an eighth-inning solo homer off Manny Corpas to put Colombia ahead for good in a 2-1 qualifier win over Panama.  Colombia will join Australia and Mexico in next year's WBC.  One qualifier remains, to be played at Brooklyn's Cyclone Park in September when Israel, Brazil, Great Britain and Pakistan square off for three days.