11/17/12 2:18 AM ET
Colombia set for tough test against Brazil in qualifier
By Alex Espinoza / Special to MLB.com
The South American outfit opened the Panama World Baseball Classic qualifier with a 3-2 upset victory over the host country on Thursday night at Rod Carew National Stadium and needs one more win to reach the qualifier final. Standing in Brazil's way is a Colombia squad that showed its offensive prowess in an 8-1 victory over Nicaragua on Friday night.
The two teams are set to face off at 2 p.m. ET and will be followed by the qualifier's first elimination game between Panama and Nicaragua at 8 p.m. ET. You can watch both games for free online at worldbaseballclassic.com.
After watching Brazil claim the Game 1 victory on Thursday night, Colombia manager Eduardo Perez knows his team has a tough challenge.
"[Brazil manager] Barry Larkin will have them ready to play," Perez said. "They are a very disciplined team."
Brazil's win over Panama marked the country's first win in Classic competition after it didn't participate in the 2006 and 2009 tournaments. Given Yan Gomes' debut with Toronto earlier this year, making him the first Brazilian-born player to reach the MLB level, 2012 has already been a banner year for Brazil.
"I know the country of Brazil is watching," Larkin said after his team's win on Thursday. "This is an important tournament for baseball in the fact that Brazil has its first Major League Baseball player in Yan Gomes, and there are many more that are going to be coming. As far as the way that we played today, I think this is significant for the country, for the future of baseball, and I know all Brasileiros are very proud tonight."
Colombia, meanwhile, received big contributions from its players with MLB experience during Friday's win. Edgar Renteria and Marlins infielder Donovan Solano were in the middle of Colombia's five-run, second-inning outburst against Nicaragua which set the tone for the evening. Renteria hit an RBI fielder's choice and then came around to score on Solano's two-run triple, before Solano reached home plateon a throwing error later in the play.
"It's exciting to have Edgar Renteria in a Colombia uniform," Perez said. "One of the biggest reasons Colombia is recognized for its baseball is because of Edgar Renteria."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.