PANAMA – Argentina can continue dreaming in its first qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic.
The South American team (2-1) produced three runs in the bottom of the seventh episode to turn the scoreboard and defeat New Zealand 4-1, with which they will face Nicaragua on Tuesday -who for their part knocked out Pakistan earlier. 12-0- in a key duel to access the dispute of one of the last two tickets to the fifth edition of the Clásico next year.
A setback would have sent the gauchos home.
After being down 1-0 after a solo home run by Chayton Krauss in the top of the sixth inning, Argentina made its decisive rally by succumbing the rival relief, in a game that until the sixth inning had been a duel of pitchers.
Elliot Johnstone walked Lucas Nakandakare and José Gerez and hit Andrés Kim. With no outs and a full house, Lucas Stalman drove in Nakandakare with a single off freshman Ryota Okumoto to make it 1-1. Sebastian Garcia was hit and Gerez scored the second, while Kim scored the third on a wild pitch by Connor Glesson, who relieved Okumoto. Stalman scored the fourth after another walk with the bases loaded and two out.
Right-hander Federico Robles (1-0) claimed the win by covering seven innings and allowing just one run, Krauss’ home run. José Mendoza, a pitcher from Venezuela, got the save by pitching out the last two innings. Johnstone (0-1) took the loss.
In the first match, Steven Leyton and Isaac Benard led a strong offense as Nicaragua defeated Pakistan by runs in seven innings.
Leyton scored two runs and drove in three while Benard drove in four, including a home run. It was Nicaragua’s first victory in the tie, one day after falling to Brazil 4-1.
Right-hander Osman Gutierrez (1-0) combined with three relievers to allow just four hits for Pakistan (0-2), which was eliminated.
On Tuesday, Brazil (2-0) and Panama (1-0) are also measured for the first ticket. The loser of that match will face the winner of Argentina-Nicaragua the next day to settle the second ticket.
Great Britain and the Czech Republic qualified in another tie recently played in Germany. The first classified in Panama will complete Group C of next year’s tournament to be held in Phoenix and which includes the United States -the last champion-, Mexico, Colombia and Canada. The second classified will do so in Group D in Miami in a key together with Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Israel.
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Classic: Argentina and Nicaragua win and will collide in a key duel