By The Star Staff
The Puerto Rico Under 23 National Baseball Team moved closer to qualifying for the 2024 World Cup, by beating Argentina 10-6 earlier this week in the Pre-World Cup held at Roberto Clemente Stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua.
With the victory, Puerto Rico improved its record to 2-1 in the tournament, which grants four places for next year’s U23 World Cup. Argentina, on the other hand, was eliminated after suffering its fourth consecutive defeat.
The key to the Puerto Rican victory on Tuesday was a five-run rally in the sixth inning, which began with Argentina leading 6-5. Jankel Ortiz tied the game with a single, followed by a double by Luis González that drove in two runs. John Montes plated the 10th run with another single.
Puerto Rico manager Juan “Igor” González commented on the team’s performance: “Playing badly we won, a few mental errors, but the boys were able to recover.”
“When we were down we reached base, we had people hit in the clutch and we were able to drive in runs,” González said in a written statement.
Puerto Rico took the early lead in the top of the third inning thanks to a home run by Ortiz and an RBI single by Yan Contreras. But Argentina responded with five runs in the bottom half of the inning, taking advantage of errors and lack of control by the Puerto Rican pitchers. The score remained close until the sixth inning, when Puerto Rico sealed the win.
Jean Pabón notched the victory after pitching two innings in relief, while Franco Villasinti suffered the loss.
Puerto Rico was slated to play the Dominican Republic on Wednesday at 5 p.m. (Puerto Rico time) at Soberanía Stadium in Managua, in what was to be its last game of the tournament’s first round.