Mexico handed Brazil its first loss of the 2023 Pan American Games on Friday. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC Americas)
World Baseball Network
A soft ground ball to second base in the bottom of the sixth inning that could have been an inning-ending double play instead got two runs home for Mexico and ended Brazil’s undefeated run in the 2023 Pan American Games.
With the bases loaded with one out and the game tied at one, Mexico’s Fernando Acosta tapped a slow grounded to second base, where Brazil second baseman Lucas Rojo charged the rolling ball but was unable to corral it in his glove. When he finally did control the ball, the chance for a double play was gone, and Rojo threw to first – poorly. The ball eluded first baseman Saloman Koba, allowing Randy Romero and Fernando Villegas to score, giving Mexico a 3-1 lead.
That lead would hold, and Mexico won 5-1, though Brazil will advance to the gold medal game regardless. Mexico will play Panama for the bronze medal Saturday at 8:30 a.m. EDT, while Brazil will play Colombia for the gold medal at 2 p.m. EDT.
Following Acosta’s two-run fielder’s choice, Edson Garcia hit into a fielder’s choice of his own at second base, allowing Moises Gutierrez to score and give Mexico a four-run cushion. Garcia scored from second when the next batter, Norberto Obeso, singled to left field. Garcia slid through the legs of Brazil catcher Raphael Barbosa and was initially called out by home plate umpire Jorge Niebla, but a video review showed Garcia touched the plate before Barbosa applied the tag, and Mexico took a 5-1 lead.
Roberto Ramos doubled in the top of the fourth inning, sending Jesus Avila home from first base for a 1-0 lead.
The game was tied at one a half-inning later, when Brazil’s Paulo Orlando’s sacrifice bunt got Lucas Sakay home from third base.
Mexico’s pitching staff allowed just four hits, one run, and one walk, with reliever Samuel Zazueta earning the win after allowing one hit, one walk, and no runs after coming in to throw the sixth inning.
Brazil reliever Gabriel De Souza took the loss, throwing one inning and allowing four runs on two hits with a strikeout and a walk. Three of the runs De Souza allowed were unearned.
Brazil qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games by beating Argentina 2-0 in the 2022 South American Baseball Championship in July 2022 in Lima, Peru. The country has won eight gold medals at the South American Baseball Championship, the most since the event began in 1957, but has not won multiple games at an intercontinental senior event since the 2005 Baseball World Cup.. Brazil has not appeared in the Pan American Games since they were the host nation for the Rio de Janeiro games in 2007.
This is the first time that Brazil has appeared 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.
Both the bronze medal game and the gold medal game will be streamed live on panamsportschannel.org.