A country known more for its exploits on the soccer pitch than the baseball diamond, Brazil finds itself just one win away from the World Baseball Classic.
Rays shortstop prospect Leonardo Reginatto collected three hits, an RBI and a run scored Saturday as Brazil cruised past Colombia, 7-1, in a WBC qualifier at Panama City.
Having beaten the host country, 3-2, on Thursday, Brazil will clinch a spot in the WBC with another win over Colombia or Panama on Monday.
Blanked for three innings, Brazil scored in each of the next five innings. After a three-run seventh, Reginatto provided more insurance with an RBI single in the eighth.
The 22-year-old has paced Brazil through two qualifying games, leading the team with four hits and three runs scored in nine trips to the plate. Signed by Tampa Bay as a non-drafted free agent in 2009, Reginatto hit .276 with a homer, 29 RBIs and eight stolen bases this summer in his second stint with short-season Hudson Valley.
Colombia racked up 11 hits but mustered just one run on a fifth-inning single by Jolbert Cabrera that scored former World Series MVP Edgar Renteria. Marlins infielder Donovan Solano went 3-for-4 with a walk.
Brazil starter Oscar Nakaoshi put runners in scoring position in three of his four innings but escaped unscathed. The 21-year-old left-hander allowed five hits and two walks, striking out four.
Panama 6, Nicaragua 2
Pirates farmhand Eliecer Navarro tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings and Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada drove in a pair of runs to power Panama past Nicaragua.
Braves prospect Concepcion Rodriguez went 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and a run scored out of the eighth spot of Panama's lineup.
Panama will take on Colombia in an elimination game on Sunday, with the winner facing Brazil the following night.