No hay mejor forma de iniciar un Mundial que brindándoles unas arepas a tu rival // There is no better way to start a World Cup than by offering arepas to your rival [ESP/ENG]
And yes, why such a colorful title? Because the Venezuelan national team has won in its debut in the Baseball World Cup U-23 2022 and it could not have been in a better way than beating nine arepas (0-9) to a timorous South African team.
The U-23 Baseball World Cup Taipei 2022 has already started, in the first game of the day the local Chinese Taipei defeated Colombia (2-6), but here I am not going to talk about the opening game, but about the game scheduled for hours later between Venezuela and the South African team.
For this first game, manager Carlos García put all his trust in the ace of the rotation and world champion, Wikelman Ramírez. This starter was only two outs away from achieving the no hit no run, despite not achieving the feat, he took all the spotlight by completing 6.1 innings of work, where he allowed no runs, only conceded one hit and struck out 11 batters.
Although the game started very evenly, with 3 episodes where we had a great pitching duel and it was only in the third inning that we would see the first hit.
Things changed in the fourth inning, when after a misread by the center fielder on a hit by Carlos Mendoza, first baseman Jesús Chirinos scored the first run on the scoreboard. Mendoza himself put the 0-2 on the scoreboard, when he reached home thanks to an error by South African shortstop Joshua Wentzel. Seeing that his defense did not support him, starter Dylan O'Brien began to hesitate, throwing a ball to Jefferson Morales, and then Michael Chirinos brought in the third run at the feet of designated hitter Ezequiel Alfonzo.
In the fifth inning South Africa moved the bullpen, the manager did not allow O'Brien to return to the mound and brought in Mohamed to pitch. In spite of the change of pitcher, the out of control continued in a curious episode, since Armando Arias reached the cushion for a ticket, César Izturis got on base for a single and Mendoza missed a bunt prepared for the first pitch, which allowed the catcher to react quickly sending the ball to second to place the runner out, but due to the fact that the pitch was not very good, he managed to save himself, however, after watching the replay of the transmission, it was verified that it was a walk off, as they would say over there. Finally the South African manager paid dearly for his naivety in not requesting the review, as Mendoza would later fail in his mission, but thanks to Garcia's hawk eye that did not fail to request a review on a double play, he left the inning more alive than ever, with runners on first and third with only one out. A sacrifice fly by Kenedy Coronado brought in the fourth run, a double by Jesus Chirinos drove in the fifth and Amador Arias with a hit to the rigth filder drove in the sixth.
In the sixth inning, the South African manager tried to stop the Venezuelan offense by changing the pitcher again, but the play failed again, as Alfonzo received Maritz with a double and the defense failed again after a Jeferson Morales' ground ball that the third baseman failed to send correctly to the first base, to put the 0-7 on the Taiwanese board. Michael Chirinos brought in the eighth run with the help of the second baseman who failed to field the ball. As if it was something we had seen before, the pitcher got out of control and after a wild pitch allowed the runner to advance, to be later taken to the plate with a single by Arias. The coach after so many errors got up to talk to his pitcher and he responded to his confidence by retiring the three Venezuelan batters that followed.
In the seventh and last episode, Wentzel cut the perfect game of the Venezuelan starter with a single, the only hit of his team in the whole game. After this hit, Carlos García took the ball away from Wentzel to celebrate with his teammates, leaving the job of closing the victory to Juan Querecuto, who responded in a good way, getting the last two outs.
The Venezuelan opener was phenomenal, a victory that allows us to gain confidence in a World Cup that will be much more difficult from now on, since the South African team did not prove to be a good thermometer to measure the level of the national team. Let's hope that tomorrow Japan and Venezuela will give us a more even match.