Facing its first real test of a joint administration in local baseball, The Bahamas faltered, losing all four of its games at the Pan American Baseball Confederation’s (COPABE) U18 (under-18) Baseball Championships in Panama City, Panama.
In its opening game on Friday, Team Bahamas fell 15-1 to Cuba, then lost 14-4 in seven innings to Colombia on Saturday, and ended the weekend with a 17-1 loss to Venezuela on Sunday. In The Bahamas’ final pool game on Monday, the team fell 17-3 to Canada.
Bahamas Baseball Association (BBA) Vice President Marvin ‘Toogie’ Wood, a former national player, remains upbeat about the talent level of Team Bahamas and the prospect of the team in the future.
“Even the scores might not indicate it, I think that we played very well and showed a lot of promise for the future. We showed that we could play with these guys. There were some jitters and we were outplayed but at the end of the day, progress was made,” said Wood. “We need to start identifying funding. Funding is always vital when you are trying to put together a team to play in this type of a tournament. Overall, there were a few bright spots, but you’re not going to have long-term success at a tournament like this without proper funding. To get to where we want to in baseball, we have to put in the work and get proper funding. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get there.”
In the first game of the regional tournament against Cuba at the Estadio Olmedo Solé in Las Tablas, Panama, The Bahamas fell behind 2-0 after the first inning. Cuba added two more runs in the top of the fourth. The Bahamas got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Austin Knowles scored an unearned run. He reached second on throwing error after a broken-bat grounder, stole third and came home on a sacrifice fly. Cuba took that 4-1 lead into the sixth. They scored two more in the top of the sixth, chasing Team Bahamas starter Dylan Cartwright. They added three runs in the top of the eighth, and exploded for six in the top of the ninth to put the game away, winning convincingly, 15-1. Cartwright suffered the loss for The Bahamas.
Team Bahamas had a much better start against Colombia at the Estadio Olmedo Solé the following day. The game was tied at one after the first inning, and The Bahamas took its first lead of the tournament in the top of the second as James Rolle connected for a 430-foot solo shot. The Bahamas had an opportunity to add more runs to its total but stranded runners at the corners, with no outs, in the top of the second. Colombia scored twice in the bottom of the second to take a 3-2 lead, and they never looked back. They went ahead 5-3 in the bottom of the fourth, and 7-4 in the bottom of the fifth. They went on to score seven runs between the sixth and seventh innings to end the game early via the mercy rule, winning 14-4.
A lack of offensive production and fundamental errors continued to plague The Bahamas as they went on to lose, 17-1, to Venezuela at the Estadio Olmedo Solé on Sunday. It would get no easier on Monday as Team Bahamas fell behind early to Canada and never recovered. Canada scored six runs in the first inning off just one hit. They capitalized off a number of walks and pass balls, all with two outs. Canada was ahead 8-3 after three innings, and went to win easily, 17-3, at the Estadio Olmedo Solé. Canada scored 17 runs off just eight hits as Team Bahamas was plagued with a number of fundamental errors.
“It was a combination of everything that really caused us,” said Wood. “Those other teams had some timely hits, and in particular on our part, there was a lack of communication. This team consists of players from different islands and various leagues. They don’t get to play with each other on a regular basis, and you need that consistency and chemistry when you play at a tournament at this level. Also, a number of players on the other teams play professionally and are used of playing at this level. We’re confident that we’re headed in the right direction. This was an 18U (18-and under) tournament and a number of our guys are 14U (14-and-under). We have a development plan for our teams going forward, and we feel that we are headed in the right direction.”
There were some bright spots for Team Bahamas as Knowles tied for the tournament lead in stolen bases with three, and Rolle was second in home-runs with one.
It’s been about a year and a half since the various baseball factions in the country came together under one umbrella, essentially ending more than a 30-year impasse in the sport locally. This was their first main test internationally.
The Pan American Baseball U18 Baseball Championships is the official championship tournament for this region, and served as a qualifier for the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s (WBSC) 29th World Cup 2019, set to be played at the Gijang-Hyundai Dream Ballpark in Gijang, South Korea, next year.
The Bahamas was entered in Group B with Cuba, Canada, Venezuela and Colombia. In Group A are the United States of America (USA), the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Peru and Honduras. Group C consists of Nicaragua, Mexico, Argentina and Guatemala. The top four national teams at the end of the championships this week will represent the Americas at the WBSC U18 World Cup 2019. The United States is the five-time defending champion of the tournament.
Education: College of The Bahamas, Associates in Accounting