Brazil used 15-year-old pitcher Eric Pardinho in its victory over Pakistan in a World Baseball Classic qualifier.
While the pennant races are heating up in Major League Baseball, the World Baseball Classic qualifying games are being played to determine which teams will play in the tournament next spring. On Thursday, Brazil beat Pakistan 10-0 in a game that was shortened by rule to seven innings when Brazil took that commanding lead. Three pitchers on the Brazilian team combined to shut out the Paskistan team on four hits, including 15-year-old Eric Pardinho.
Pardinho entered the game with one out and nobody on in the top of the sixth and Brazil leading 6-0. He gave up a double on a ball off the glove of third baseman Leonardo Reginatto, then got Sumair Zawar to line out to right field. Arsalan Jamashaid walked, but Pardinho got Jawad Ali to ground into a force out to end the inning. In the outing, he pitched 2/3 of an inning and gave up a hit and a walk, but no runs. He threw 18 pitches, 12 of them for strikes. Not bad for a 15-year-old.
Speaking about his inning in the game against Pakistan, Pardinho said, “It was a great experience for me. I’m very glad to have this opportunity to have pitched for my country.” While many 15-year-olds spent the summer chasing Pokemon, Pardinho has been pitching against some impressive competition. Prior to pitching for Brazil in the WBC, Pardinho appeared in the under-16 Pan-American Baseball Championship in a game against the Dominican Republic earlier this summer. He started that game and struck out 12 batters. His fastball has been clocked at 94 mph.
Pardinho’s uncle played a major role in getting Pardinho interested in baseball. The youngster was playing racquetball on the sand. His uncle was impressed with his ability to hit and suggested he play baseball. As Pardinho said, “That’s how I was taken to the baseball field for the first time, when I was very little. And I liked it very much, playing baseball, and ever since I’ve been practicing in Brazil.”
The Brazilian team is being managed by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the longtime shortstop of the Cincinnati Reds. They are hoping to emerge from this weekend’s qualifier to earn the final spot in the 16-country field for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. They made the tournament in 2013. Along with Pakistan, this qualifier includes Israel and Great Britain. After their shutout of Pakistan on Thursday, Brazil was shut out by Israel on Friday, making their record 1-1. Israel currently leads the qualifier with a record of 2-0. Great Britain (0-1) and Pakistan (0-1) play in an elimination game later in the day on Friday.
Larkin isn’t the only link to the major leagues on the Brazilian team. Former Colorado Rockies outfielder Dante Bichette has two sons, Dante Jr. and Bo, on the Brazilian team. The boys’ mother, Maria, was born in Brazil. Maria and the elder Dante are watching the games this weekend. Dante Jr., 23, is playing in the Yankees’ minor league system. Bo, 18, was drafted in the second round of this year’s June draft by the Toronto Blue Jays. He played for the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays and was named the end-of-season All-Star at shortstop for the league.
You can follow the World Baseball Classic at this link, where you can also live-stream the games. The 2017 tournament will be the fourth classic held. Japan won the title in 2006 and 2009, with Daisuke Matsuzaka winning MVP awards both years. The Dominican Republic won the tournament in 2013 and Robinson Cano was the tournament MVP. The best showing by the U.S. team was a fourth-place finish in 2009, the only time they’ve made it as far as the semifinals. In three World Baseball Classics, the U.S. has finished eighth, fourth, and sixth.