Panama defeated the home team Taiwan 12-5 in the 메이저놀이터 first round of the first round of the Group A finals held at the Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan on the 8th and harvested a historic first victory in the WBC. More than the first win in 6 matches in the WBC final stage after 14 years.
Panama was eliminated without a win in the first tournament in 2006 and the second tournament in 2009. In 2013 and 2017, they failed to advance to the finals. Still, he was determined and continued the challenge. At the end of last year, after beating Brazil in the regional qualifiers, they secured the right to advance to the finals. In this WBC, 16 countries that were invited based on the results of the previous tournament and 4 countries that went through preliminary rounds will participate. Panama is also one of the countries (Panama, the Czech Republic, the United Kingdom, and Nicaragua) that have passed the preliminary round.
There is a reason why today’s victory was even more meaningful. Mariano Rivera (former New York Yankees), a native of Panama and a legendary firefighter in Major League Baseball (MLB), shared the first pitch before the game. ‘Descendants of Rivera’ slammed the mound in Taiwan in front of their country’s baseball hero who holds the record for the most saves (652) in MLB history.
In the top of the 4th inning, where the score was 0-0, 6 hits and 1 walk were tied for 5 points in an instant, and in the 6th inning with a 5-1 lead, 5 points were added with the Taiwanese pitcher’s wild throwing and 3 consecutive timely hits in the chance to load the base safely. Thanks to two big innings, he took a 12-2 lead until the 7th inning, and was close to winning a cold game (10 points at the end of the 7th inning, 15 points at the end of the 5th inning).
As Taiwan made up for 3 runs at the end of the 7th inning with Wu Nianting’s 2-run home run, all regular innings had to be played. However, Panama has succeeded in revealing a presence worthy of being counted as the ‘dark horse’ of Group A. Christian Betancourt, who played for the NC Dinos in the KBO League in 2019, started as the catcher for the third batter and played an active role with 2 hits, 2 walks, 1 RBI and 1 point in 4 at-bats. 34-year-old veteran shortstop Ruben Tejada, who played nine seasons in the MLB, also did his part, going 2-for-4.