11/15/12 5:02 AM ET
Philippines jumps on sloppy Thailand in qualifier
By Debby Wu / Special to MLB.com
Eighteen-year Major League veteran Johnny Damon hit a single and drew a walk for Thailand, but popped out at two critical moments in his four plate appearances.
Damon's teammates struggled in the field with sloppy play, as Thailand recorded a total of seven errors, a World Baseball Classic record. Six of the errors were made by infielders, leading to two unearned runs to the Philippines.
"My performance was OK," Damon said after the game. "I probably should have walked my third at-bat," Damon said. "You always want to do better than what you did. I feel our chances would have been better without the mistakes."
Damon's hit into a double play in the bottom of the fifth inning with runners on second and third while Thailand was trailing, 4-1.
Still, Thailand manager Masao Tokunaga praiseed Damon.
"Damon has become a leader and glued the team together. He is a big boost to our crews," Tokunaga said.
The players from the Philippines were excited about the win but cautious about what's next.
"We are happy to win the game but I think on our offense side we need to make better adjustments on our hitting, make the adjustments as soon as we can," manager Jim Ramos said. "But our pitching was very good. Our pitchers hit their locations. That's what kept us in the game and got a win out of it."
Ramos used five pitchers in the game. Starter Jon Jon Robles hurled 4 1/3 innings and gave up one run on five to earn the win.
Thailand jumped out to an early lead in the bottom of the first on a single by Nathan Lorentz. Philippines shortstop Ryan Pineda committed a throwing error on the play and Lorentz advanced to second. Then Apichat Ngamying popped out on a bunt attempt and then Damon walked. A wild pitch by Robles sent Lorentz to third, and Joe Daru drove him home with a single.
But poor defense and wild pitching led to the unraveling of Thailand's lead as the Philippines struck back in the top of the fourth with three runs. After Andres Vazquez drew a walk, Fernando Laurel singled on a fly ball to the left field. Vazquez advanced to third on a missed error by shortstop Adichat Wongvichit. Then Alec Rosales doubled to center field to drive in Vazquez and Laurel to third. Laurel scored and Rosales advanced to third on a balk. Devon Bryce Ramirez singled on a line drive to center field and Rosales scored.
After scoring a run in both the fifth and sixth innings, the Philippines added three more in the eighth. Chad Nacapoy singled to center field, and then advanced to second with another single from Ryan Pineda. Then Leighton Pangilinan flied out to push Nacapoy to third and Pineda to second. Vazquez singled to right field and Nacapoy and Pineda scored. With Laurel batting, Vazquez then stole second. Laurel singled to right-center field and pushed Vazquez to third. Then Vazquez scored on a throwing error by Teerasak Kongsabai.
Thailand looked to rally in the bottom of the eighth when they added a run. Apichat Ngamying hit a one-out double to right field, and then Damon popped out. Ngamying the advanced to third on a wild pitch by Charlie Labrador. Daru walked and pinch-hitter Sek Sitthikaew singled through the hole at shortstop to drive Ngamying home.
The Philippines will face the winner of Thursday's Chinese Taipei-New Zealand matchup, while Thailand will face the loser on Friday. Only one of the four teams will advance to the 16-team World Baseball Classic in 2013.
Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.