PANAMA CITY, Panama — Watch out world, Brazil isn’t just a soccer country anymore.
Against all odds, and almost all fans at Rod Carew National Stadium, Brazil used a trio of stellar pitching performances to claim a thrilling 1-0 victory against Panama on Monday night to earn an improbable bid to the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Once Thyago Vieira struck out Ruben Rivera in the top of the ninth inning, the Brazilian team spilled out of the dugout, some hoisting their country’s flags high over their head as the mob formed behind the pitcher’s mound. The celebration continued in the locker room, as champagne and beer flowed in victory.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against, it doesn’t matter where you play, it doesn’t matter when you play,” Brazil manager Barry Larkin said. “If you have a plan, a mentality, if you execute, if you do the small things — you can win. You can play with anyone in the world.”
The shoe fits.
In a span of five days, Brazil went from unknown underdog to being the most dominant team of the Panama qualifier. Talk about a Cinderella story.
Before the tournament started, few would have been able to name any Brazilian baseball players other than Indians catcher Yan Gomes, who became the first native of his country to crack an MLB roster in May. Now the baseball world has less than four months to learn about Brazil’s baseball squad, one which showed great attention to detail throughout the tournament and even better pitching.
“We have a tremendous team,” said Gomes, who entered his postgame press conference still soaked from the locker room celebration. “I’ve never seen more guys want to come out there and play harder than anybody. We didn’t come out scared, and that just shows the Brazilian pride and how we were raised. I know we’re a very popular soccer country, but with the talent that we have in that sport, why not bring it out to baseball?”
Read the rest of the article here
–– Alex Espinoza (@AlexEspinozaIV)