Colombia holds off Panama for spot in final

Colombia holds off Panama for spot in final

PANAMA CITY, Panama -- About the only thing that could slow down Karl Lewis Triana on Friday night was a pitch count. The Colombian right-hander took the mound in a highly anticipated matchup with Panama in the second day of World Baseball Classic qualifier at Rod Carew Stadium, tossing six hitless innings to propel his team to a 6-3 win over the host country.

Colombia's reward? A day off on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Panama will face upstart France on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET in a high-stakes elimination game. The winner will earn a date with Colombia on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET in the Panama City qualifier championship with a bid to the 2017 World Baseball Classic on the line.

Triana K's two in the 4th

Fans can watch all of the Classic qualifier action on and, or follow along with MLB Gameday.

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"I just think it's a step," Colombian manager Luis Urueta said. "It's a good step to go to the finals, but we haven't won anything yet. I think Sunday will be difficult to win the final game and go to the WBC. The team is motivated. Today's win was huge. I think the players did an unbelievable job offensively and defensively. Of course, the pitching was outstanding. [Saturday] we'll have a workout and keep the team together and get ready for Sunday."

Triana, Rodriguez, Urueta on win

Triana, a former D-backs farmhand who now pitches professionally in Mexico, started the evening topping out at 91-92 mph. And though his velocity dipped a bit as the game went on, his effectiveness didn't. The 23-year-old tossed 81 out of a maximum 85 pitches, walking one batter and striking out eight.

By the time he got to the fifth and sixth innings, Triana's fastball was sitting at about 85 mph. But he found some adrenaline with his last pitch of the night, an 88 mph heater that resulted in a strikeout against Anthony Amaya.

"He had a great outing, a solid outing," Urueta said. "Maximized his innings. Eighty-five pitches max and he went six innings, that was unbelievable. Got ahead of counts in every inning and he had his fastball command on both sides of the plate. Changeup was effective. I think the way he got out hitters like Carlos Ruiz was unbelievable. This is probably the best outing I've seen from him and I've known him for a while."

Check out photos of Colombia's win

Triana pitched in Arizona's farm system from 2011-13, making it as far as Class A ball. He said he was speaking with the Phillies and Royals before going to Mexico this winter, but nothing has come out of the discussions yet. With more performances like he had on Friday night, Triana might find himself back in affiliated ball in the future.

If it wasn't for a two-error play by his teammates in the third leading to an unearned run, Triana could have worked deeper in the game. He still authored quite a gem in an important matchup for his country, as Colombia aims to secure its first trip to the Classic.

Herrera's RBI single

Colombia staked Triana to a 4-0 lead in the third, with a rally sparked by Carlos Vidal's leadoff double. Run-scoring singles from Dilson Herrera, Jesus Valdez, Mauricio Ramos and an RBI groundout from Reynaldo Rodriguez gave Triana and Colombia all the cushion they would need.

Ramos' RBI single

Rodriguez, a Twins prospect who led the charge in Colombia's 9-2 victory over Spain on Thursday, added a solo home run in the seventh inning.

Rodriguez's homer to center

"I've got a Major League player [Herrera] hitting in front of me and a solid cleanup hitter [Valdez] hitting behind me, so I'm getting really comfortable," Rodriguez said via a translator. "The pitch that I hit was a fastball right down the middle. Made good contact and the ball went over the fence."

Panama didn't record its first hit until the seventh, when Padres prospect Javier Guerra delivered a solo shot to right field off southpaw Carlos Diaz. The Phillies' Ruiz added an RBI single for Panama in the ninth.

Acosta earns the save

"The day is over," Panama manager Carlos Lee said in Spanish. "What happened there, we can't do anything about it. We have to concentrate on tomorrow's game. What's in the past is in the the past."

Alex Espinoza is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.