Ivan Herrera (C) of Los Federales de Chiriquí of Panama celebrates home run with Johnny Santos, (L) in the seventh inning, during a game between Panama and Curazao at loanDepot park as part of Serie del Caribe 2024 on February 2, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
MIAMI – The 2024 Panamá ProBeis champion Federales de Chiriquí beat the Curacao Suns 7-3 in their first game at the 2024 Caribbean Series.
Curacao is now 1-1 at the 2024 Caribbean Series.
Curacao’s pitching staff allowed 10 hits, one home run, five earned runs, four walks, and five strikeouts, and starting pitcher Juan Carlos Sulbaran threw 4.1 innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, one walk, and two strikeouts.
Panama’s pitching staff allowed nine hits, three earned runs, one home run, six walks, and three strikeouts. Starter Harold Arauz allowed four hits, one earned run, four walks, and two strikeouts.
Panama did not get on the board until the top of the third inning until designated hitter Ivan Herrera hit a single to center field, scoring center fielder Jhonny Santos for the first run of the game.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Curacao cracked the board with third baseman Sharlon Schoop lifted a sacrifice fly to right field and Ademar Rifaela came in to score to tie the game up at 1-1.
During the top of the fifth inning, Panama took the lead when left fielder Allan Cordoba roped a single to right field as right fielder Ricardo Cespedes to go up 2-1.
In the top of the sixth inning, Panama put three runs on the scoreboard with first baseman Jean Arnaez cranking a double to left field, scoring shortstop Ruben Tejada to extend the lead to 3-1.
Curacao Suns designated hitter Wladimir Balentien hit his second home run of the 2024 Caribbean Series during the bottom of the sixth inning off relief pitcher Fernando Perez, a shot that went 417 feet to left-center field on the Budweiser concourse area above the left field wall.
A few batters later, Cespedes hit a ground ball single to center field, scoring Arnaez and third baseman Johan Camargo to make it 5-1.
In the top of the seventh inning, Herrera launched a solo home run to left field to extend the lead to 6-1.
Panama did not look back the rest of the way with their offense during their first game of the 2024 Caribbean Series with Herrera and Santos each having two hits during their first game of the tournament.
The Federales de Chiriqui are playing in their third Caribbean Series. Panama had an off day on Feb. 1 during the first day of the 2024 Caribbean Series. Panama is one of the three invitees to the 2024 Caribbean Series, along with Nicaragua and Curacao. The Federales de Chriqui previously appeared at the 2023 Caribbean Series in Caracas, Venezuela, and finished in sixth place with a record of 3-4.
The Federales de Chiriqui also participated in the Caribbean Series in 2021 in Mazatlan, Mexico at Estadio Teodoro Mariscal as an invitee and lost in the semifinals to Aguilas Cibaenas of LIDOM 4-3.
Panama will play the 2023-24 Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacífico champion Naranjeros de Hermosillo, who are 0-1, on Feb. 3 at 3:30 p.m. EST at loanDepot Park and will be streamed on ESPN+. Curacao will play the 2023-24 Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional champion Tiburones de La Guaira at 1-0 on February 3 on ESPN+.
All of the 2024 Caribbean Series will be played at loanDepot Park in Miami and will be streamed on either ESPN+ or ESPN Deportes.