Ezequiel Zabaleta delivers a pitch for Colombia in their 9-1 win against Brazil in the gold medal game at the 2023 Pan American Games. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC Americas)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Colombia won their first gold medal at the Pan American Games on Saturday afternoon, beating Brazil 9-1.
The Colombia pitching staff combined for allowing four hits, one earned run, two walks, and three strikeouts during their gold medal win on Saturday.
Brazil won the silver medal at the Pan American Games for the first time, and the win was also Brazil’s first medal at an international senior event. Brazil only had two losses at the 2023 Pan American Games.
In the top of the first, Colombia right fielder Derwin Pomare drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring designated hitter Carlos Arroyo.
In the bottom of the second inning, Brazil tied the game at one when shortstop Felipe Mizukosi lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, allowing designated hitter Osvaldo Carvalho to score and make it 1-1.
Colombia added another run in the top of the third inning when left fielder Dilson Herrera hit an RBI single to right center field, scoring Arroyo for a 2-1 lead.
During the top of the fourth inning, Colombia added to their cushion, starting with Marriaga’s double down the right field line that sent first baseman Luis Benitez in to score to make it 3-1.
The next batter, Colombia second baseman Jorge Ramos, ripped a single through the left side of the infield and Marriaga came in to score to extend the lead to 4-1.
Brazil manager Ramon Ito replaced starting pitcher Felipe Marcondes after he threw three innings, allowing five hits, two earned runs, two walks, and four strikeouts, putting relief pitcher Daniel Missaki on the mound to try and squelch the Colombia offense.
A few batters later, Arroyo lofted a sacrifice fly to right field and Ramos came in to score Colombia’s fifth run of the game.
In the top of the fifth inning, Pomare roped a double to right field and Herrera came in to score to extend Colombia’s lead to 6-1.
Colombia starting pitcher Victor Vargas threw four innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, two walks and three strikeouts during the gold medal win.
During the top of the sixth inning, Colombia catcher Carlos Martinez ripped a double down the left field line, scoring shortstop Francisco Acuna to make it 7-1. Herrera added an RBI single to left field in the top of the sixth inning, scoring third baseman Fabian Pertuz for Colombia’s eighth run of the game.
Colombia pitcher Jhon Peluffo entered the game in the bottom of the seventh inning with an eight-run lead and he retired the Brazil’s offense in order, getting pinch hitter Jean Tome to ground out to Pertuz for the final out of the game. Colombia stormed out of the dugout to celebrate their first gold medal at the Pan American Games.
Brazil’s pitching staff allowed 17 hits, nine earned runs, five walks, and six strikeouts during the gold medal game.
Colombia won their first gold medal at an international senior event since the 1965 Baseball World Cup. Colombia has only won a bronze medal at the Pan American Games during the 1971 tournament.
Colombia also won the gold medal at the Baseball World Cup during the 1947 tournament as the host nation and won the gold during the 1946 Central American and Caribbean Games as well as the host nation.
The last time Colombia medaled at an international senior event was during the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games winning the bronze medal.
Colombia qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games by winning gold at the 2021 Junior Pan American Games beating Cuba 8-0 at Estadio Edgar Renteria under current national team manager Jose Mosquera, in the first year that baseball debuted at the event.
Colombia will have to qualify for the 2026 World Baseball Classic in 2025 for their next international senior event. Colombia finished 1-3 at the 2023 World Baseball Classic in Pool D at Chase Field in Phoenix and ended up with the same record as Great Britain during pool play with the Total Quality Balance runs for and runs against, run differential scenario from the World Baseball Softball Confederation.
With Colombia ranked No. 15 in the World Baseball Rankings, behind No. 14 Czech Republic, No. 13 Italy, and No. 12 Panama, the nation is on the bubble for the 2024 Premier 12 tournament, and will have to wait for the updated World Baseball Rankings on Dec. 31, 2023 to see if they’ll be in the field for the Premier 12. The top 12 teams in the December 31 rankings will comprise the field for the event.
The Premier 12 will be the only international senior event on the 2024 baseball calendar. The Premier 12 was originally scheduled for 2023, and was moved to 2024 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, resulting in the World Baseball Classic being rescheduled from 2021 to 2023. The World Baseball Classic and Premier 12 cannot be held in the same year.
The next Pan American Games will be in 2027 in Barranquilla, Colombia from July 2-18.