Spring saw a number of international baseball events as men's and women's teams competed for continental championships later in the year.
Colombia wins South American Championships
Center fielder Efrain Contreras hit two home runs as Colombia upset host Brazil, 6-4, to win the 13th South American Championship. Ranked 20th by Elo before the tournament started, Colombia swept all six games by a combined 69-11 and hit 27 home runs. The championship, Colombia's first, means Colombia will participate in the Pan American Games held this July in Toronto; it will be their first appearance at those games since 1979.
Meanwhile, three-time defending champ Argentina dropped two close games to Brazil, and was sent home empty-handed by Peru, who upset the Gauchos 6-2 in a ten-inning third-place game. Relative newcomer Bolivia was shut out in its four games; in the 24 games in our database, they have been outscored 296-25.
Pakistan dominates West Asia Baseball Cup
As expected, host Pakistan cruised past three inexperienced squads to win the 12th West Asia Baseball Cup in Islamabad. The championship was Pakistan's fourth consecutive and fifth overall in this competition; Pakistan has finished first or second in every Asia Baseball Cup since 2001. As a result, Pakistan qualifies for the 2015 Asian Baseball Championship, where they will face Japan, South Korea, Chinese Taipei, China, and the winner of the East Asia Baseball Cup to be held in May in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In their first competition since 2012, the Iranian delegation finished 2-1 under new manager Toma Irokawa to earn second place. The other two participants were even more green: India had not entered a team in an international competition since the 1999 Asia Baseball Cup, and Iraq's national team competed at the senior level for the first time in our database.
U.S. sweeps Women's Pan American Games Qualifier
Left fielder Tamara Holmes drove in two runs and Jade Gortarez pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout to lead the U.S. past Venezuela and earn the top place at the Women's Pan American Games Qualifiers yesterday. It was the Americans' second complete game shutout of the tournament -- two days earlier, Kelsie Whitmore fanned five and allowed three hits in a 1-0 victory over Cuba. The U.S., which finished second in the Women's Baseball World Cup in Japan last year, won all five of its games.
In the third-place game, Puerto Rico scored two in the sixth inning and three in the seventh and final inning to rally past Cuba 6-4. The top four teams in the event -- the U.S., Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Cuba -- qualify for July's Pan American Games in Toronto, where they will face the host Canadians. Host Dominican Republic lost all four matches in their first international games since 2009.
Europe All-Stars split series with Samurai Japan
The Japanese national team hosted a collection of European baseball players for a two-game exhibition series in the Tokyo Dome. Team Europe* jumped out to an early 3-1 on an Oscar Angulo double, but Japan reclaimed the lead in the eighth on a Yuhei Takai single to win the first game 4-3. In the second game, Curacao's Yurendell De Caster hit a three-run homer as Europe built an early five-run lead. The Europeans then held on to win 6-2 and earn a series split in their first international action.
* - I'm not including Team Europe in my rankings because Europe isn't a country.
Updated Men's and Women's Rankings
Colombia's championship moved them into 16th in our rankings, just behind Nicaragua and ahead of Argentina, Brazil, and Ecuador. The entire rankings table can be found below; Iraq became the 105th national team to have at least one game in our database. We have also created a second table with the few women's games that we have found, including all Women's Baseball World Cups and the recent Pan American Games qualifiers. More information on our methodology can be found here.
The rankings are visualized in this map, with blue representing higher Elo rankings, and orange representing lower. Countries in black have no games in our database. Men's and women's rankings are visualized on separate maps.
Upcoming Tournaments and Events
Aside from May's East Asia Baseball Cup, the next round of international baseball games will take place in July. Tournaments will include the Pan American Games, the European B-Level Championships, the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands, and the Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea. A complete list of known upcoming events can be found here (submissions of missing events are always welcome).
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Special thanks to Mark Cruickshank at The Roon Ba, the World Baseball Softball Confederation, and the various national baseball federations for information on these tournaments. Additional details about the methodology, including the #gorymath, can be found in this PDF.