11/18/12 1:27 PM ET
Colombia, Panama meet for shot at final
By Alex Espinoza / MLB.com
The Panama World Baseball Classic qualifier has reached the knockout stage, and up next in Sunday night's elimination match is the host country Panama taking on Colombia in a game that will be available on a free, live stream at 7 p.m. ET at worldbaseballclassic.com.
Panama has already survived one do-or-die test, as it knocked out Nicaragua on Saturday with a 6-2 victory at Rod Carew National Stadium.
While Roberto Kelly was happy his team was able to give the hometown crowd something to cheer about, the Panama manager knows nothing's been accomplished just yet.
"We still got a lot of work to do ahead of us," Kelly said following Saturday's win. "I just hope the guys come out tomorrow with the same enthusiasm and we can go out there and get the runs, get the key hits, and [that] the pitching can hold the way it's been doing thus far.
"I think our pitching has been our strength. So hopefully those guys go out there and give us some innings and give us some time for our offense to come through for us."
Both teams feature lineups capable of big offensive outbursts. Colombia won on Friday night by slugging its way to an 8-1 victory vs. Nicaragua. Panama, meanwhile, features the most MLB star power of any team in the qualifier. The winner on Sunday night will advance to face up-and-coming Brazil in the qualifier final, while the loser will be officially eliminated from World Baseball Classic competition.
"I hope it's a good game and that we're ready for what's in front of us tomorrow," Colombia manager Eduardo Perez said on Saturday.
Panama received major contributions from its big leaguers in Saturday's victory, as Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada had three doubles on the evening, two of which scored runs, and Mets righty Manny Acosta closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning. Colombia, meanwhile, has benefited greatly from former All-Star shortstop Edgar Renteria and Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano up the middle of the field.
"[On Friday], we saw Colombia's offense, which scored eight runs," Kelly said. "We just have to focus on what we have to do in order to do well."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.