This catch might already be the play of the World Baseball Classic

March 8th, 2023

TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- It was the fifth inning of Panama's 12-5 win on Wednesday and Chinese Taipei was trailing by five runs, looking for something -- anything -- to match the energy of its sellout crowd.

Leadoff hitter Tsung-Che Cheng launched a pitch from Panama right-hander Randall Delgado to deep right-center field. It looked like it would go out -- at the very least, it would go for extra bases. But Panama right fielder Luis Castillo and center fielder Jose Ramos began converging toward the ball -- getting closer and closer -- until they crashed into each other. The ball disappeared.

The crowd cheered and Cheng actually ran all the way home, thinking it was a hit. There’s no way either of them caught it.

Except well, it was a catch. Castillo caught it.

"That was a hell of a catch," Panama manager Luis Ortiz said after the game. "But he's a good ballplayer. I know these kids. I scouted these kids, so I know he has played for me previously. Also very good outfielder, used to be a center fielder, but now he's a little bit older. ... That was a hell of a play. My team can play defense. We can pitch, and we can play defense."

The crowd and even Chinese Taipei manager Lin Yueh-ping were unable to process it -- looking at multiple replays on the Jumbotron. The umpires conferred that it was indeed an out, and Castillo and Ramos stayed in the game. Chinese Taipei ended up scoring one run to cut the deficit to four, but it could’ve been much more if not for the catch of the tournament -- so far.