Roberto Ramos of Mexico had two walks and an RBI in the bronze medal game against Panama at the 2023 Pan American Games. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC Americas)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Mexico won their fifth bronze medal at the Pan American Games, beating No. 12 Panama 10-2 at the 2023 tournament in Cerrillos, Chile at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park Saturday morning.
Panama’s pitching staff allowed 10 hits, seven earned runs, four walks and two strikeouts during the bronze medal game.
Mexico is a near-lock to play in the Premier 12 Tournament next November, as they hold the No. 3 ranked position through the World Baseball Rankings and it is unlikely that they could fall 10 spots before the newest rankings are released on December 31.
Mexico won their first bronze medal at the Pan American Games since sharing the bronze medal with Nicaragua at the 2007 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, and they previously won the bronze medal at the Pan American Games in 1951, 1963, and 2003.
Mexico got on the board in the top of the second inning when catcher Fernando Flores singled through the right side of the infield, scoring designated hitter Roberto Valenzuela.
In the top of the fourth inning, Mexico’s offense put six runs on the board, starting with second baseman Moises Gutierrez’ lead-off double to left center field. A few moments later, Panama manager Hipolito Ortiz went to his bullpen to call upon relief pitcher Luis Machuca to replace starting pitcher Davis Romero after three innings pitched. Romero allowed six hits, three earned runs, walking two batters, and striking out one during the bronze medal game.
Machuca’s first batter was Fernando Flores, who drove a single through the right side of the infield and Guiterrez came into score to extend the lead to 2-0. A few batters later, Mexico shortstop Jasson Atondo roped a double down the left field line, scoring third baseman Jesus Avila and Flores to make it 4-0.
Then Mexico right fielder Fernando Villegas drove a two-run RBI single to left center field, scoring Norberto Gonzalez and Atondo to make it 6-0.
Ortiz again came out of the dugout, this time to lift Machuca for Julio Denis.
Roberto Valenzuela drove in the sixth run of the inning for Mexico when he poked an RBI single into center field, scoring Villegas.
Mexico starting pitcher Luis Miranda did not allow a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning, when he gave up a one out double to Panama center fielder Jhonny Santos.
Mexico manager Jose Garcia put relief pitcher Darel Torres in after Miranda gave up an RBI single to Panama right fielder Abraham Rodriguez and an RBI single to left fielder Jose Mordock, which drove Panama’s only two runs of the game. Miranda threw 4.1 innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, no walks, and three strikeouts.
Mexico added another run in top of the sixth inning when Gutierrez singled to center field, scoring Atondo to make it 8-2. They scored their final two runs of the game in the top of the seventh inning when Villegas smacked an RBI single to left field, scoring Gonzalez to make it 9-2.
The next batter, first baseman Roberto Ramos, lofted a sacrifice fly to right field and Atondo scored the 10th and final run for Mexico.
Mexico’s pitching staff combined to allow six hits, two earned runs, no walks, and five strikeouts on Saturday.
Mexico has finished third at two of the three international senior events held this year. They took third the 2023 World Baseball Classic in March, losing to Japan 6-5 in the semifinals at loanDepot Park in Miami.
Mexico qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games by winning gold at the 2023 Central American Games back in July in San Salvador, El Salvador. Mexico won gold due to the gold medal game being rained out against Cuba, which resulted in the nation having the better record at the event to receive the gold.
Mexico has also won the silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 1926, 1930, 1950, 1954, 1993, and 2010. Mexico has won the bronze medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 1962, 1970, and shared the medal with Venezuela in 2006.
Panama has not medaled at an international senior event since winning the bronze at the 1959 Central American and Caribbean Games. Panama has also won two silver medals at the Central American and Caribbean Games in 1935, sharing the medal with Nicaragua and at the 1938 event.
Panama has never won a gold medal at an international senior event in the history of their nation. Panama has won two silver medals at the Central American Games in 2017, 2013, and 1977 along with two gold medals at the tournament in 2010 and 1997.
Panama will not have to qualify for the 2026 World Baseball Classic, as they finished in a four-way tie in Pool A at the 2023 WBC in Taichung, Taiwan with Italy, Cuba, host Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands. All four nations finished 2-2, but thanks to the Total Quality Balance tiebreaking criteria used by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Panama did not finish last in the pool, avoiding having to to qualify for 2026.
Panama, at No. 12 in the World Baseball Rankings, is on the bubble for the Premier 12, just ahead of Italy at No. 13, the Czech Republic at No. 14 and Colombia at No. 15, which participated in the 2023 Pan American Games.
Panama will have to wait for the next World Baseball Rankings to be released on Dec. 31, 2023, to determine if they will be in the Premier 12 next year. The top 12 teams in that ranking will be in the field for the Premier 12.
The Premier 12 will be the only international senior event tournament during the 2024 calendar cycle. The Premier 12 was originally scheduled for 2023 and was moved to 2024 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, resulting in the WBC being rescheduled from 2021 to 2023. The World Baseball Classic and Premier 12 cannot be on the same international baseball calendar cycle.
The next Pan American Games will be in 2027 in Barranquilla, Colombia from July 2-18.