THE Philippines scattered 12 hits to wallop a Johnny Damon-led Thailand side, 8-2, on Thursday in an auspicious debut in the World Baseball Classic qualifier on Thursday at the Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City.
Left-handed starter Jon Jon Robles, who once played in the Czech Republic professional league, set the tone for the Filipinos’ lopsided win, yielding five hits and striking out four batters over 4 1/3 solid innings after giving up the first run of the game.
Alec Rosales, a Fil-American out of Vanguard University, doubled in the tying run and scored the Filipinos’ third run of the game — all in the fourth inning — to start off the romp against the Thais.
With the victory, the Philippines will face the winner of Thursday night’s Chinese Taipei-New Zealand match-up on Friday in the modified double-elimination tournament.
After that shaky first inning, the Philippines practically breezed through Thailand despite the presence of major leaguer Damon, who only had a hit in his three at-bats.
Fil-Puerto Rican Andres Vazquez drew a lead-off walk and advanced to third on a single by Matt Laurel. Rosales doubled to center field allowing Vazquez to score and tie the game at 1-1.
The Philippines went ahead on a balk by Thailand starter Kamolphan Kanjanavisut scoring Laurel for a 2-1 lead before Rosales scored on a base hit by Devon Ramirez in a three-run fourth inning.
Laurel doubled to left field to score Vazquez in the fifth for a 4-1 lead.
The Thais' biggest opportunity came with one out in the fifth inning when Damon came to the plate representing the tying run with one out and runners on second and first.
But the former Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees outfielder popped out against reliever Vladimir Eguia and the Filipino infielders took advantage of poor baserunning by the Thais to force a double play to end the threat.
The runs piled on for the Philippines after that, padding its lead with three more runs in the eighth. The Thai fielders also tallied seven errors in the game.
Led by Robles, the pitching staff gave up only seven hits against the Thais. The local-based pitchers in Eguia, Darwin Dela Calzada, and Charlie Labrador saw action for the most part with ex-San Francisco Giants reliever Geno Espineli closing out the game.
Espineli is expected to pitch in the tougher games against Chinese Taipei and New Zealand.
Joe Daru doubled home the first run in the game for Thailand against Robles but failed to follow it up as it only scored again in the eighth.