On Thursday March 17,the second WBC Qualifier started in Mexicali Mexico. Germany took on Nicaragua and big favorite Mexico took on the Czech Republic in the night cap.
Unfortunately the games could only be seen in the USA and Puerto Rico…. Apparently WBC and MLB forgot that there are also baseball fans in Central America and in Europe….
Unlike the other Qualifier in Panama where two lopsided games were played, the two games played in Mexico were more exciting.
Germany 4 – 5 Nicaragua
Who thought that Germany would be a pushover for Nicaragua, was dead wrong.
Even though Nicaragua took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning, they could not walk away from the Germans.
Jairo Beras lined towards pitcher Markus Solbach for a lead off single. Alex Blandino then doubled to left field and drove in Beras for the opening run. With Blandino at third base, Renato Morales singled to center field and drove in the second run for the Nicaraguans.
But from their the production stalled.
In the third inning both teams had a runner on third base with two outs, but both teams failed to score.
With soccer Germans are known for their perseverance. Germany’s baseball team showed to have the same mentality as they fought back in the sixth inning. After Nicaraguan pitcher Samuel Estrada replaced Gustavo Martinez on the mound, Estrada started the inning by giving up two consecutive walks. Then Bruce Maxwell smashed a 1-2 offering away for a three run homerun that gave the Germans a one run lead.
In the bottom of the ninth Germany was close to a surprise with their 3-2 lead. But with runners on first and second and two outs, Elmer Reyes singled on a groundball to left field and drove in Omar Obregon from second to tie the game. When Elmer Reyes tried to stretch a single into a double he was thrown out at second base for the final out of the inning.
So extra innings were needed. In the top of the tenth, Donald Lutz drew a walk as pitcher Jose Saenz wasn’t able to throw a pitch through the strike zone. Ludwig Glaser then hit a 2-1 offering away to right field for a double that drove in Donald Lutz, to give Germany another one run lead.
From that moment on it looked like the pitching of Nicaragua was about to collapse when Germany got runners on first and second with no outs but eventually Carlos Gonzalez got out of the inning without further damage for Nicaragua.
But once again Nicaragua had to try to come back from a one run deficit. Enorbel Marquez took the mound for Germany and he started to give up a single to Darrell Campbell. Then Wulliams Vasquez lined out to center field followed by a single to Jairo Beras to put runners on first and second. Eventually Alex Blandino was the game winner for Nicaragua as he doubled to center field and drove in both runners for the win.
Despite a good very effort in which they were close to a surprise, Germany collapsed in the tenth inning. They certainly had deserved more when you look to the whole game. But unfortunately that doesn’t count in baseball.
Carlos Gonzalez earned the win. He pitched in the tenth inning, striking out two.
Marquez blew the save and took the loss for Germany by giving up two runs on three hits.
Best hitter for Nicaragua was Jairo Beras, who went 3 for 4 with a walk and two runs scored. Most impact for Nicaragua had Alex Blandino who drove in three runs in two hits out of five at bats.
Czech Republic 1 – 2 Mexico
Apparently WBC and MLB realized that they have to serve baseball fans all over the world, as the game between the Czech Republic and Mexico could be seen on the website of the World Baseball Classic. 🙂
In the night cap host nation Mexico took on the Czech Republic. Those who expected a blow out score by the Mexicans were wrong again.
In the first inning it looked like Mexico would walk away easily as they took an early 2-0 lead. With one out, Marek Cervenka issued two consecutive walks before giving up a single to Jesus Castillo, that drove in the first run for Mexico. Adrian Gonzalez could advance to third on that hit and scored on a sac fly hit by Agustin Murillo.
But from that moment on the run production for Mexico stalled as Marek Cervenka kept the Mexican batters in check rather well. But he needed 51 pitches of wich 23 were strikes to do so. He was replaced in the bottom of the fourth inning by Jan Novak.
Despite allowing Mexico to put runners in scoring position, Novak got out of the fourth inning without damage.
But in the bottom of the seventh inning, Novak’s performance started to show some cracks as he allowed runners on the corners. His replacement, Alex Sogard, started his outing with a walk to load the bases but then retired Jesus Castillo on a fly out to left field for the final out of the inning.
In the top of the eighth inning, Matej Hejma hit a solo homerun with two outs to put the Czechs on the board but that was all the Czechs could do.
Alejandro Soto earned the win for Mexico. In three innings he did not give up a hit, walked one and struck out seven.
Marek Cervenka took the loss after a decent outing. In three innings he gave up only two earned runs on two hits. He walked three and struck out one.
Walter Ibarra was the best hitter for Mexico, going 1 for 2.
Even though Mexico never really got a hard time, they did not outhit the Czechs as both teams collected four hits. The number of walks made the difference in this game. Mexico drew six walks as the Czechs only drew three.
The two European teams can be proud of the game they played, even though they took the loss.
Mexico will take on Nicaragua in the winners bracket today as Germany will face the Czech Republic in the losers bracket.