Chief Correspondent, Matt Tallarini
Brazil coming off a win against New Zealand to start the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers will seek to go for a 2-0 record against a really tough Nicaragua team that is looking to clinch a spot in the World Baseball Classic for the first time in their nation’s history. Nicaragua also has been recruiting players from the independent leagues in the United States, major league organizations and players from their two pro circuit leagues in Nicaragua thanks to the help of Marvin Bernard and now current manager Sandor Guido. Sandor Guido is taking over Bernard’s managerial job due to a family emergency Marvin just recently encountered during the last few days.
Federation officials along with Bernard and Guido recruited great caliber of organizational players with guys like 3B Cheslor Cuthbert who is based with the Cincinnati Reds in their farm system and OF Elmer Reyes who had a breakout season in the Atlantic League with the York Revolution hitting 10 home runs and driving in 66 runs. These two players can have a positive impact for the Nicaragua ball club in their journey to enter the main field of the tournament. Nicaragua has called upon MLB journeyman pitcher J.C. Ramirez to get the nod for the first game in the qualifiers.
Keys for Brazil coming off a huge win against New Zealand in the first game of the qualifiers will have to be quick outs from their starting pitcher Felipe Sales. The Lopes brothers Christian and Tim had an outstanding role in Brazil’s win during their first game. Could they prevail on the left side of the win column to help Brazil get one win closer to a berth in the World Baseball Classic?
In the first inning of the game Brazil put up great deep counts in their at bats. J.C. Ramirez was trying to have more command of his breaking pitches. With one out and nobody on base SS Vitor Ito stepped to the plate and drove a single to right field on an 0-2 count. Next at bat Tim Lopes hit a single to left field that advanced Ito to second base leading up to 3B Leonardo Reginatto’s single to left leaving the bases loaded with no outs. Christian Lopes stepped into the batter’s box looking to do damage in driving multiple runs to the plate in result he grounded out to Cheslor Cuthbert as Vitor Ito came in to score Brazil’s first run of the game. Felipe Sales retired the first three batters of the game nicely keeping the Brazil defense on their toes.
Sales would start out retiring the first eight batters of the game as catcher Melvin Novoa stepped to the batter’s box in the third inning looking to do damage. Melvin drove the full count pitch over the left field wall to tie up the score at one a piece.
J.C. Ramirez went on to pitch 4 2/3 innings. His pitch count was limited for safety precautions in place of the 85 pitch count regulations in place for the qualifiers. In came relief pitcher Leo Crawford looking to mix in the lefty-lefty scenario with Vitor Ito looking to move the runners over from first and second with a sacrifice bunt. Ito squared and placed a perfect bunt down the third base side as Cuthbert fielded it to first attempting to get Ito. Ito beat the throw reaching base safely to make it bases loaded and no outs. A few batters later Leonard Reginatto came up with runners on second and third and one out to drive a single to left field which scored Gabriel Maciel to take a 3-1 lead over Nicaragua.
In the top of the sixth inning Daniel Molinari led off with a single to center field for Brazil. During the middle of RF Fernando Luciano’s at bat relief pitcher Junior Tellez threw a pickoff attempt to third base which resulted in a throwing error and David Molinari advanced to second base. A few batters later Gabriel Maciel drove a double to right field which eventually scored Daniel Molinari for a 4-1 lead. Brazil’s relief pitching would go the rest of the way with no harm done. Relief pitcher Enzo Sawayama shuts the door with two innings pitched, no hits, allowed one walk, and three strikeouts to capture the 4-1 victory over second seed Nicaragua.
Brazil will look to seek their first World Baseball Classic appearance on Tuesday since 2013 where they will face Panama for the right of going to the main field in March. This is familiar territory for the Brazil ball club. In 2013 they beat the Panama ball club to march into the World Baseball Classic and they are looking to do so again Tuesday night. Panama later during the night cap went onto beat Argentina by the score of 11-0 in a mercy rule outcome concluding in the seventh inning to position themselves for a Tuesday night show down against Brazil.