Sunday, October 02, 2011

Panama kicks off Baseball World Cup with Win over Greece

Hosts overcome early deficit against European Underdog in Opener

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BOX SCORE

Panama City, Panama. Team Panama opened the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup with an 8-3 win over Greece. In front of a near-sellout crowd the hosts overcame an early 0-3 deficit and used a four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth inning to down the European underdog. Conception Rodriguez hit a solo homerun over the left field wall for Panama to deliver the highlight of the game.

Using the momentum of an emotional opening ceremony Panama’s starting pitcher Paolo Espino needed just ten pitches to strike out the side in the first, including former professional players Chris Demetral and Erik Daniel Pappas.

But after this perfect start into the game for the hosts, the Greek national team got on the board first. They loaded the bases with no outs thanks to a leadoff walk and a pair of singles in the second. Alexander Zachos got to the plate and was hit by the pitch to force in the first run. Two more scored on a two-run single by Constantin Panagotacos down the right field foul line.

It was a short-lived 3-0 lead for the team from Europe. After Conception Rodriguez walked, Greek right fielder Zachos misplayed two flyballs and Panama cut the deficit to one run on Carlos Quiroz’ triple and Javier Castillo’s double. Damaso Espino followed with a double to tie the game, as the ball went over the head of Panagotacos in left.  

The game-deciding rally came in the sixth inning. Four runs for Panama broke the tie. A RBI single by Conception Rodriguez, a two-run single by Espino and a sac fly by Luis Castillo ran the score up to 7-3. Rodriguez added a solo homerun in the seventh to provide more insurance. Greece couldn’t do much after their three-run second and had to settle for the loss.

On the mound Espino (W, 1-0) went six innings for the first win of the tournament, allowing five hits, three runs and a walk, while striking out eight. Eliecer Navarro and Gilberto Mendez combined to pitch three innings of two-hit ball to close it out. Southpaw Meleti Ross Meleches (L, 0-1) gave up nine hits, seven runs (5 ER) and two base on balls in 5 1/3 frames.  

Opening Ceremony

A 90-minute opening ceremony preceded the first match of the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama. After fireworks and a wonderful music and dance show, player’s and umpire’s oath, IBAF President Riccardo Fraccari and the President of the Local Organizing Committee Edwin Cabrera held speeches to open the tournament officially. Current major leaguer Carlos Lee of the Houston Astros threw out the ceremonial first pitch, getting the crowd going to kick off the 39th edition of the Baseball World Cup.

Notes

Nearly 30,000 people watched the first game of the IBAF Baseball World Cup at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama Citys…...Aguadulce, Santiago and Chitre also will host games in the first round of the tournament……while most of the Greek players are unknown, the Greek national team has ties into Major League Baseball: Manager Jim Essian managed the Chicago Cubs in 1991. Chris Demetral played in 1,045 minor league games for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers organizations. Erik Daniel Pappas caught 54 big league games for the California Angels..…. Carlos Lee is the current first baseman for the Houston Astros. He was born in Aguadulce, Panama.

Outlook

With the opening game in the books, the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup is really getting underway on Sunday with seven games. In Group 1 Puerto Rico vs. Canada, the Netherlands vs. Chinese Taipei and Japan vs. USA are on the program. In Group 2 Australia vs. Cuba, Germany vs. Nicaragua, Venezuela vs. Korea and Dominican Republic vs. Italy round up an exciting second day of the tournament. Games will be played at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Remon Cantera Stadium in Aguadulce, Rico Cedeno Stadium in Chitre and Omar Torrijos Stadium in Santiago.   

Schedule

14h00 Puerto Rico – Canada (Panama City)
14h00 Netherlands – Chinese Taipei (Aguadulce)
14h00 Australia – Cuba (Chitre)
14h00 Germany – Nicaragua (Santiago)
19h30 Japan – USA (Panama City)
19h30 Venezuela – Korea (Chitre)
19h30 Dominican Republic – Italy (Santiago)
(local times Panama)

Follow the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup also on Facebook and Twitter. 50 Games of the tournament will be streamed live online.