Mexico Collapses In Ninth, Falls to 0-3 With 4-3 Loss to Panama at Caribbean Series

Johnny Santos of Los Federales de Chiriquí of Panama gets doused to celebrate the victory during a game between Mexico and Panama at loanDepot park as part of Serie del Caribe 2024 on February 3, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)

By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network

MIAMI – Needing to win after starting the 2024 Caribbean series 0-2, Mexico’s Naranjeros de Hermosillo turned to veteran starter Wilmer Rios against Panama Saturday afternoon.

Rios delivered, throwing 5.1 innings of two-hit ball, allowing one run, and the Mexico bullpen held off Panama’s bats until the ninth, when disaster struck.

A lineup error forced Mexico to bring in Jake Sanchez, who allowed three runs on two hits in the bottom of the ninth, allowing Panama to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win 4-3 when Jhonny Santos drove in the winning run with a triple.

The loss dropped Mexico to 0-3 at the Caribbean Series, while Panama improved to 2-0.

Bobby Bradley’s RBI single to center in the top of the first drove in Roberto Valenzuela for a 1-0 Mexico lead.

Panama’s Jhonny Santos evened the score at one apiece with a two-out home run into the left field bullpen in the bottom of the second inning.

Bernard Harris took the lead with two outs in the top of the fifth when Augustin Murillo dropped a safety squeeze down the third base line that allowed Roberto Valenzuela to score and make it 2-1.

After retiring the first Panama batter in the bottom of the sixth, Rios was lifted for Juan Manuel Gamez for the heart of the Panama order.

In the top of the ninth, Aaron Altherr tripped an RBI triple off the center field wall to score Julian Ornelas and give Mexico a 3-1 lead.

Lefty Luis Marquez entered the game for Mexico to pitch the bottom of the ninth, but wasn’t on the game roster, and following a conference of the umpires, headed to the dugout.

Replacing him was Jake Sanchez, who hit Ivan Herrera with a 3-2 pitch and then gave up a double to Christian Bethancourt to bring the tying run to the plate for Panama.

After striking out Ruben Tejada, Sanchez got Johansson Camaro to ground out to second, allowing Herrera to score and cut the lead to 3-2. 

Jean Arnaez then blooped a single into shallow center to score Bethancourt and tie the game.

With Arnaez on first, Jhonny Santos ripped the 2-2 offering from Sanchez into the left center field gap, and Arneaz chugged around the bases as the Panama dugout emptied, the victory assured.

Panama, 2-0, will face Nicaragua at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, while Mexico, 0-3, will face the Dominican Republic at 8:30 p.m. The 2024 Caribbean Series is telecast live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.

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