Panama Tops Puerto Rico 3-2 On Herrera’s RBI Single

By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network

Panama’s Ivan Herrera went 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI, and was hit by a pitch, powering Pamana’s Federales de Chiriqui over Puerto Rico’s Indio de Mayaguez at the Caribbean Series Sunday.

Both teams were 1-2 coming into last night’s game, with Panama lost a tough 1-0 game against Curacao and Puerto Rico lost 6-4 to the Dominican Republic.

Panama sent Steven Fuentes, a 25-year-old pitcher in the Washington Nationals organization, to the mound. Fuentes pitched 92 innings in Double-A Harrisburg with 74 strikeouts in 2022. Puerto Rico starter Ronnie Williams was drafted in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals and has also spent time in the KBO with the Kia Tigers. Williams has pitched well for Puerto Rico this winter with an ERA of 3.15 in 40 innings. 

Both pitchers were up to the task and held the opposition scoreless for the first two innings. Puerto Rico broke through in the third innings with an RBI triple by outfielder Bryan Torres and an RBI double by third baseman Emmanuel Rivera, each scoring one run to make it 2-0. Torres, 27, has spent some time in the Milwaukee Brewers organization. He had one home run and nine RBI in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Rivera, 26, hit 12 home runs for the Arizona Diamondbacks in his rookie season last year.

After this inning, Panama’s pitcher Steven Fuentes was locked in, not allowing any more runs, and ended up throwing six innings, allowing four hits, two runs and three strikeouts. 

Panama responded in the bottom of the third with an RBI double from outfielder Rodrigo Alexis Orozco for their first run of the game. Orozco, 27, has spent time in the Toronto Blue Jays and San Diego Padres organizations. Panama tied it up in the next inning with a home run from outfielder Jandiel Santamaria. The 35-year-old spent some time in the New York Yankees and Atlanta Braves organizations. Puerto Rico’s pitcher Ronnie Williams didn’t last much longer, getting just one out in the fifth inning. His final line was 4.1 innings pitched, four hits, two runs and five strikeouts. 

Both bullpens keep the game scoreless until the bottom of the eighth inning. Puerto Rican reliever Carlos Francisco came out for a second inning of work and got into trouble, issuing a leadoff walk to Enrique Valdez and a bunt single to Joshwan Wright. He then gave up a sacrifice bunt to Rodrigo Orozco, advancing Valdez to third and Wright to second before intentionally walking Michael Wielansky to load the bases.

Panama sent up pinch hitter Erasmo Caballero, who struck out after working Francisco to a full count and fouling off several pitches. Then Catcher Ivan Herrera hit an infield single to score Enrique Valdez, giving Panama a 3-2 lead.

Panama closed the game out in the ninth with help from relief pitcher David Richardson, who picked up a four-out save in the 3-2 win. Panama moved to 2-2 and Puerto Rico fell to 1-3.

Panama will play the Dominican Republic at 2 p.m. ET at Estadio Forum in La Guaira and Puerto Rico will look to rebound against Curacao at 3 p.m. ET at La Rinconada. Both games will be available via ESPN Deportes and streamed on ESPN+.  

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