When these two teams met Friday night, Colombia triumphed, 6-3, thanks in large part to six hitless innings from starter Karl Lewis Triana. Offensively, Colombia was able to support Triana with an early four-run rally, something Panama manager Carlos Lee said his team can ill-afford on Sunday.
Lee plans to start 20-year-old Texas Rangers farmhand Ariel Jurado, and he also has the option to use Paolo Espino out of the bullpen. Espino, who posted a 3.21 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) for the Nationals' Triple-A affiliate last season, only needed 33 pitches to get through three perfect innings in Thursday's 9-2 win over France.
"We got to come out tomorrow and play a better game," Lee said after his team's7-4 comeback win over France on Saturday. "We've got to pitch better and we've got to compete. We can't let them come out and get ahead in the game. We've got to go from the start and take them on head-to-head."
While Panama had to play its way into the final game of the qualifier on Saturday, Colombia just had a team workout after winning its first two tilts of the tournament, including Thursday's 9-2 shellacking of Spain. Colombia is seeking its first bid to the WBC, while Panama looks to rejoin the 16-team field after making it during the 2006 and '09 tournaments.
"I think we have a good team this tournament," Colombia manager Luis Urueta said. "Like I've said before, it's important to get good momentum with our hitting and score early runs to support our pitching. We have good chemistry, good rhythm and a good group who wants to do well. I hope we can keep it going Sunday."
Following Friday night's win over Panama, Urueta had yet to decide his starting pitcher for Sunday.
Australia won the WBC Qualifier in Sydney in February, and Mexico will face Nicaragua on Sunday (10 p.m. ET) in its bid to reach its fourth straight Classic. The 12 automatic entrants into the 2017 WBC field include Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela.