Astros farmhand Murilo Gouvea retired the first 10 batters he faced, and Rays farmhand Leonardo Reginatto scored two of Brazil's runs and drove in a third as Brazil upset Panama 3-2 to open the World Baseball Classic qualifying tournament.
Managed by Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin, Brazil left nine runners on base but overcame that to beat the host nation in front of 13,728 fans at Rod Carew Stadium. The Panamanian lineup featured three big leaguers in the middle with Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada batting second, Phillies all-star catcher Carlos Ruiz hitting third and veteran Carlos Lee hitting cleanup. Gouvea retired Tejada twice, but left in the eighth with a 3-2 lead when Ruiz and Lee chased him with back-to-back singles.
Righthander Kesley Kondo, a Sao Paolo native who pitched the last two seasons out of the University of Utah's bullpen, relieved and got out of the jam. He retired a pair of ex-big leaguers, 39-year-old Ruben Rivera and 40-year-old Jose Macias, on groundouts to retire the side. Kondo, 22, posted a 3.40 ERA in 2012 for the Utes in 48 innings, and gave way to hard-throwing Thyago Vieira for the ninth. The Mariners farmhand, whose fastball has reached 97 mph, retired the side in the ninth to record the save.
Minor leaguers Paolo Espino (Indians) and Andre Rienzo (White Sox) got the start for Panama and Brazil, and neither was sharp. Espino got eight outs while giving up six hits and two runs (one earned) for Panama, while Reinzo walked five and gave up four hits while allowing two runs (one earned).
Brazil broke a 2-2 tie in the fifth off Ernesto Silva (Braves), as Reginatto walked and Yan Gomes (Indians) singled. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up to second and third, and 36-year-old Juan Carlos Muniz delivered the game-winning single that scored Reginatto. Gomes was thrown out at the plate, but Brazil had its lead, and relievers Gouvea, Kondo and Vieira held it.
New Zealand, Taiwan Earn Mercy Wins
New Zealand earned its first WBC victory while Taiwan moved into the championship game for the WBC qualifier in New Taipei City.
Taiwan had four pitchers combine on a one-hitter, allowing only a double to Athletics farmhand Ryan Pineda, while the offense used 14 hits and 12 walks to pound the Philippines in a 16-0 victory.
New Zealand got an eighth-inning solo homer by Red Sox farmhand Boss Moanaroa to earn a mercy-rule margin of victory, 12-2 over Thailand. Former Phillies farmhand Alan Schoenberger ignited the win with three hits, four runs and four stolen bases out of the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, 17-year-old lefthander Makauley Fox Rolfe, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound lefthander, tossed five two-hit innings, walking three and striking out five to earn the victory. Fox Rolfe, who has played for New Zealand national teams in the 14U and 16U age groups, is the first starter in the two November qualifiers to work five innings.
Johnny Damon, playing first base, had two of Thailand's four hits. The other went to 19-year-old right fielder Nathan Lorentz and Cal State-East Bay's Jack Daru.