Natel Marcondes was stellar on the mound for Brazil in their 3-1 upset of Venezuela at the 2023 Pan American Games. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC Americas)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
World No. 23 Brazil shocked sixth-ranked Venezuela in their first game of Group B at the 2023 Pan American Games 3-1.
Brazil appeared in their first Pan American Games since the 2007 tournament in Rio de Janeiro.
This is the first time that Brazil is appearing in an intercontinental senior event tournament since appearing in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, though they did play in the 2017 and 2023 World Baseball Classic qualifiers. Brazil qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games, beating Argentina 2-0 in the 2022 South American Baseball Championship in in July 2022 in Lima, Peru.
Brazil had not won a game at the Pan American Games since the 2007 tournament, when Brazil went 1-2 in group play.
The Brazil pitching staff combined for seven innings allowing six hits, one earned run, three walks, and five strikeouts in the win against Venezuela.
Venezuela starter Sergio Velis allowed five hits, one earned run, and three strikeouts during Thursday’s loss.
During the bottom of the second inning, Brazil’s designated hitter Salomon Koba led the inning off with a single up the middle. The next batter, Brazil left fielder Fabio Murakami, laid down a sacrifice bunt up the first base line, moving Koba over to third base. Brazil shortstop Lucas Rojo’s RBI single to left field scored Koba for the first run of the game. Rojo would eventually go to second base after the ball got past Venezuela left fielder Omar Carrizales.
The next batter, Brazil catcher Gabriel Barros, reached on a fielding error by Venezuela second baseman Edgar Duran and Rojo came in to score to extend the lead to 2-0.
Venezuela’s Velis was taken out of the game in the top of the second inning after throwing 1.2 innings and allowing four hits, one earned run, and striking out three, yielding the mound to Wuilder Rios.
A few batters later, Brazil third baseman Pedro Silva drove a single to right field and right fielder Ariel Frigo came in to score to make it 3-0 Brazil.
In the top of the fifth inning, Venezuela’s Rayder Ascanio hit a bloop single in front of Brazil center fielder Paulo Orlando as catcher Juan Torres came in to score to cut the deficit to two runs at 3-1.
Brazil starting pitcher Natel Marcondes left in the top of the fifth inning after throwing four innings and allowing five hits, one earned run, two walks, and two strikeouts.
During the top of the fifth, Brazil was playing with the infield in with runners on second and third base and no outs when second baseman Felipe Mizukosi made a big play on a ground ball by Venezuela designated hitter Jesus Brato, which almost skipped into right field. Mizukosi put his body in front of the ball to save two runs on board and record the first out of the inning.
After intentionally walking Venezuela shortstop Yonathan Jimenez, Nakaoshi would get the final two outs of the inning, striking out Eduardo Zerpa swinging on a breaking pitch in the dirt and getting first baseman Osman Gonzalez to fly out to center field for the third out.
In the seventh, Nakaoshi got Jimenez to strike out looking on a breaking pitch that was chest high for the final out of the game as Brazil upset Venezuela 3-1.
Brazil will play on October 22 against No. 15 Colombia at 8:30 a.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park. Venezuela will play No. 8 Cuba at 2 p.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park on October 22.
Group B will have the final two teams on October 20 with both nations first game of the 2023 Pan American Games with No. 8 Cuba going up against No. 15 World ranked Colombia at 8:30 a.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park. All Pan American Games will be live streamed for free on https://www.panamsportschannel.org/main.
Correction: An earlier version of this story noted Brazil’s last win at the Pan American Games came in 2003. Brazil last won a game at the 2007 Pan American Games, and the story has been changed to reflect that.