Nivaldo Rodriguez delivers a pitch for Venezuela in a 6-5 win against Cuba at the Pan American Games in Cerillos, Chile. (Photo Courtesy of WBSC Americas)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Venezuela won their first game of the 2023 Pan American Games Sunday evening, pushing their record to 1-1 with a 6-5 win against Cuba in their second game of Group B play in Cerrillos, Chile.
Cuba is now 1-1 at the 2023 Pan American Games and will play No. 23 Brazil on Tuesday and needs a lot of luck to get through to the knockout round. They’ll have to beat Brazil on Tuesday and will have to hope Venezuela loses to Colombia on Tuesday in order to advance to the next round. The World Baseball Softball Confederation’s Total Quality Balance tie-breaking criteria will be used to determine which teams advance if necessary.
In the top of the first inning, Cuba shortstop Erisbel Arrubarruena singled to left field, scoring center fielder Roel Santos. Third baseman Roberto Baldoquin came in to score on a throwing error by Venezuela left fielder Eduardo Diaz to put Cuba up 2-0.
A few batters later, Cuba first baseman Yasniel Gonzalez’s sacrifice fly to right field scoredYoelkis Guibert to make it 3-0.
During the bottom of the second inning, Venezuela catcher Juan Torres lifted a solo home run over the left field wall to cut the lead to 3-1. A few batters later, Venezuela designated hitter Bryant Bracho reached on a fielding error by Santos, and second baseman Engelb Fernandez and shortstop Yonathan Jimenez came in to score to tie the game.
Cuba starter Carlos Viera threw 1.2 innings, allowing six hits, one earned run, no walks, and struck out four, yielding to Naykel Cruz, but Venezuela scored six runs in the bottom of the second.
Pinch hitter Yurisbel Gracial replaced starting catcher Andrys Perez for Cuba in the sixth and lifted a two-run home run to cut the lead to one run at 6-5.
Venezuela right fielder Edgardo Perez had one hit, one RBI, and one walk during Sunday’s win, and third baseman Edgar Bracho scored one run, and had two hits, one RBI, and one strikeout.
Nivaldo Rodriguez threw 5.1 innings for Venezuela, allowing seven hits, three earned runs, and six strikeouts to earn the win.
Venezuela has not won a gold medal at the Pan American Games since the 1959 tournament in Chicago, when they beat Puerto Rico. That was the last time Venezuela won gold at an intercontinental senior event. Venezuela has not medaled at the Pan American Games since winning the bronze medal at the 1975 tournament in Mexico City.
Venezuela qualified for the 2023 Pan American Games by beating the Dominican Republic 8-7 in the bronze medal game at the Central American and Caribbean Games in San Salvador, El Salvador, in June.
In Group B, Venezuela will play No. 15 Colombia (0-2) on Tuesday, October 24, at 2 p.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park. Also in Group B, Cuba will play No. 24 Brazil (2-0) on Tuesday, October 24, at 8:30 a.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park.
Group A of the 2023 Pan American Games will have the final two games of pool play on Monday, October 23 with No. 12 Panama (2-0) going up against No. 3 Mexico (2-0) at 8:30 a.m. EDT at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park. Chile will play No. 9 Dominican Republic in the final game of Group A at 2 p.m. EDT on October 23 at Cerrillos Bicentennial Park.