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PanAm-U23'2023 | With a 15-11 victory, Panama ended Cuba's World Cup dreams

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

The Cuban pitching couldn't hold off the 13 hits fired by the Panamanian hitters



On Wednesday night, the Cuban national team's World Cup dream ended as Panama massacred the Cuban pitching. The Panama team beat the island team 15-11, during a decisive game at Roberto Clemente Stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua.



The defeat generated a triple tie in Group B between Panama, Venezuela, and Cuba, all with a 3-2 balance, but Venezuela obtained the World Cup ticket based on Team's Quality Balance (TBQ) applied to international events of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC).



Cuba started well in a match that could have earned them a spot in the 2024 U23 World Championship, scoring four runs against starter James González. The Panamanians responded quickly, scoring two runs in the bottom of the first inning to knock out the island's starter, left-handed Dorvis Borroto.


Left-handed Miguel Neira, the Cuban starter designated for the game, suddenly disappeared today from the hotel where the Cuban team was staying. Borroto was then called to pitch in this critical game.


It was perhaps Borroto's hasty removal that led to a lethal attack by the Panamanian offense against the Cuban relief pitchers. Five runs were scored in the second and fourth innings, along with three in the third inning.


An Erasmo Caballero Grand Slam against Cuba's first reliever, Albert Valladares, turned the score around and put Panama ahead 7-5 in the second inning. The Panamanians never trailed again.


Two of Panama's three runs in the third inning were driven in by Julio González's two-run home run off Cuba's third reliever, right-hander Reynaldo Alvarez.


Despite Panama's 15-6 lead, Cuba's offense battled and scored five runs in the fifth inning. This was supported by three hits, command issues by Panama relievers, and a defensive error. But that was all the Cubans could do in the game. After scoring 11 runs on 11 hits, the team was abandoned by a pitching staff that saw seven relievers in the game, five of whom gave up runs.


The result was a setback for Cuba in a pre-World Cup event of the category. The team took second place in the 2022 event held in Aguascalientes, Mexico. In that tournament the island's team advanced to the final and lost 4-0 to Mexico.


Having beaten Venezuela 3-1 in the afternoon match, Colombia was the only undefeated team in Group B with a balance of 5-0 and thus clinched a spot in the final - where it will face Nicaragua (4-0) - as well as the ticket to the 2024 World Championship in China.


Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic 13-7 on the same day in Group A, securing the other ticket in dispute for China 2024, along with Nicaragua.

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