PANAMA CITY, Panama -- For the first time in his accomplished baseball career, Edgar Renteria donned the red, yellow and blue threads of his native Colombia on Friday night. Perhaps his countrymen are wondering why he didn't do it earlier.
The pride of Barranquilla looked every bit the part of a 16-year Major League veteran as he helped lead Colombia to an 8-1 victory over Nicaragua in the second contest of the World Baseball Classic qualifier.
"He's here to win; he's here to compete," Colombia manager Eduardo Perez said. "This is a guy who did not participate the entire season in regular-season baseball, then all the sudden he went out there and got a hit and looked great defensively."
With the victory, Colombia is set for a 2 p.m. ET matchup with Brazil on Saturday with a trip to the qualifier final on the line. Nicaragua will play Panama at 8 p.m. in the qualifier's first elimination match. Both games can be seen live for free on MLB.com.
Renteria teamed with another big leaguer, Miami Marlins infielder Donovan Solano, in Colombia's game-changing second inning. It ended with a crooked number and essentially put the game out of reach for Nicaragua.
Following the game, Perez also credited Renteria for his seven-pitch at-bat in the first inning which resulted in a single. Given the 85-pitch limit on pitchers in World Baseball Classic play, patient at-bats are at a premium. Renteria, who batted second, finished 1-for-4 with an RBI before being replaced by Ignacio Suarez at shortstop in the eighth inning.
"It's exciting to have Edgar Renteria in a Colombia uniform," Perez said. "One of the biggest reasons Colombia is recognized for its baseball is because of Edgar Renteria."
The scoring started with Steve Brown and Renteria, each of whom drove in a run against Seattle Mariners right-hander and Nicaragua starter Erasmo Ramirez to give Colombia a 2-0 lead. But the game's biggest hit came from Solano, who followed it up with a two-run triple to right field that landed just out of the reach of Nicaragua right fielder Renato Morales. Solano scored on the play after a bad relay by second baseman Ronald Garth.
In a matter of minutes, it was 5-0 Colombia.
"That five-run second inning, we did it off a good pitcher who is pitching for his country, and he was little bit amped up," Perez said. "But I got to give a lot of credit to our guys. They slowed the game down, they took long at-bats, they raised the pitch count and that was, I believe, the key of the game."
Nicaragua manager Dennis Martinez also commended Solano for his stellar defensive effort, as he and Renteria teamed up for an impressive 4-6-3 double play in the fourth inning. Solano also stabbed a sharp line drive off the bat of Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera to end the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, Colombia starter Sugar Ray Marimon kept the Nicaragua lineup silent. Led by leadoff man Cabrera, Nicaragua's only run came via a fourth-inning home run by third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. Otherwise, Marimon was hard to hit.
Marimon, a Royals prospect who split time between the Class A and Double-A ball this year, allowed one run on four hits while striking out four without a walk in five innings.
"Sugar did a good job today of attacking the zone at the beginning of at-bats," Perez said. "He has a good presence on the mound, and he's been working a long time for this."
Ramirez was on the opposite end of the spectrum, struggling all evening before being relieved after giving up the big hit to Solano. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) on four hits with a strikeout and two walks.
"You don't want to lose a game," Martinez said. "You want to try to win the first one, because that's the most important one. Unfortunately, the same thing happened to Panama, so now we're in the same boat. Now we'll have to come back tomorrow and get excited."
Colombia kept pouring it on as the game progressed. Third baseman Giovanny Urshela hit a solo shot to left field in the fourth inning, and Brown added a two-run shot in the eighth, bouncing it off the foul pole.
Fans behind the Colombian dugout broke out into song and dance following Brown's home run, which put an exclamation point on a lopsided victory.