Velasquez leads Panama into WBC final

Former Rays farmhand drives in three runs against Colombia

By Robert Emrich / Special to | November 18, 2012 5:53 PM ET

It was a player who totaled 64 regular-season at-bats who struck the biggest blow for Panama on Sunday.

Isaias Velasquez tripled, singled and drove in three runs as Panama bested Colombia, 9-7, to wrap up a spot in the World Baseball Classic qualifier final in Panama City.

Velasquez, a free agent who split the 2012 season between the Gulf Coast League and Double-A Montgomery, got the scoring started with a two-run triple in the second inning and came home on a single by Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada. The 24-year-old outfielder plated another run with a base hit in the sixth.

The former Florida State League All-Star raised his average to .333 during the qualifying round. Velasquez batted .266 with one RBI in 19 regular-season games.

Three-time All-Star Carlos Lee slugged a two-run homer and Tejada finished with two hits and a run scored for Panama, which will face Brazil on Monday for a spot in the WBC main field. Ruben Rivera contributed a solo blast.

Former Major Leaguer Ramon Mendoza tossed 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief to get the win. Cubs reliever Manuel Corpas finished off the win, allowing a run on two hits over the 1 2/3 frames.

Red Sox prospect Reynaldo Rodriguez was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, while Marlins infielder Donovan Solano drove in a run for Colombia.

Brazil, which shut down Colombia, 7-1, on Saturday, is seeking its first trip to the WBC. Panama was eliminated in the opening round of the 2009 tournament.

Robert Emrich is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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