Behind a dazzling performance from starting pitcher Edisson Gonzalez and two home runs from James Gonzalez, Latin America champ Aguadulce, Panama cruised to an 8-3 win over Canadian Region champ Vancouver, B.C., on Sunday afternoon at Volunteer Stadium.
James Gonzalez capped off a six-run second inning for Panama, launching a grand slam off Canada's Steven Moretto. He hit his second home run, a two-run shot, in the fourth inning to pad the lead and raise his RBI total to six for the tournament.
"Things were going the way we wanted," said Panama manager Luis Gonzalez. "The team was scoring runs at the beginning, so it was very easy from that point on."
With James Gonzalez providing all the offense, Edisson Gonzalez provided everything Panama needed on the mound.
Edisson Gonzalez pitched four innings, allowed two runs - one earned - walked two and struck out eight.
"I was a little nervous in the first inning," Edisson Gonzalez said. "But then I started throwing strikes and I knew Daniel Cruz was going to come in."
Cruz closed the game for Panama, allowing one run over two innings and striking out five. Although not as dominant as Gonzalez, Cruz pitched well enough to hold off Canada while allowing Gonzalez to rest, making him available to pitch again after three days.
"Things were going the way we wanted so (Edisson) only threw 65 pitches," Luis Gonzalez said. "They (the team) also knew Daniel was going to be the closer for today's game. It all went the way we wanted."
The play of the game came when Canada's Thomas Neal made a second attempt to land a spot in SportsCenter's Top 10 plays of the day, reeling in what would have been an RBI single for Panama's Edwin Nieto in the second inning.
Two batters later, though, James Gonzalez launched his grand slam that Neal would have no shot at, putting Panama up 6-0 and putting the game out of reach.
"As the pitch approached the plate, in my mind, I wasn't thinking about the home run," James Gonzalez said. "I just hit the ball and it went out."
Between Panama's strong pitching and potent offense, it was tough for Canada.
Canada wasn't able to rely on a strong defense, as six of Panama's runs came off home runs, and the combination of Edisson Gonzalez and Daniel Cruz on the mound shut down the offense.
"It was the best pitching we have seen as a team," said Canada manager Vito Bordignon. "They had good fastballs, good breaking balls. We had difficulty adjusting."
Canada mainly struggled at the plate due to an abundance of swing-and-misses, as the team struck out 13 times and managed two hits.
"The problem was we had too many strikeouts," Bordignon said. "Maybe you pick up a run here or a run there and you make the game a little closer."
The loss for Canada comes just a few days after beating Mexico, 13-9. Much like Mexico, Panama has relied on its power bats to do much of the scoring.
"I think the win over Mexico gave us higher expectations and we went into this game thinking Mexico was better than Latin America," Bordignon said. "We needed to come back with the same type of effort as we had against Mexico and we didn't."