(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
USA dethrones Dominican Republic and qualifies for Semi-Final
SAN DIEGO, California (USA) -
The USA has reached the Final Round of the World Baseball Classic for the first time since 2009 and only the second time in four editions.
On Saturday-evening (March 18), the USA won 6-3 against the Dominican Republic, which therefore was dethroned as WBC-champion.
With game, Pool F in the Second Round ended.
With the win, the USA became the second team from this Pool to qualify for the Final Round, which begins on Monday in Los Angeles.
The Americans will meet Japan in the Semi-Final on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, Puerto Rico won big against Venezuela with a 13-2 score.
Puerto Rico will meet the Netherlands in the Semi-Final on Monday.
The Dominicans struck early off of starter Danny Duffy (Kansas City Royals), scoring twice in the bottom of the first inning.
With one out, Manny Machado (Baltimore Orioles) reached on an error and scored on a following double by Robinson Canó (Seattle Mariners).
With two outs, Cano scored the next run on a single by Carlos Santana (Cleveland Indians).
In the second, Gregory Polanco (Pittsburgh Pirates) led off with a single and Welington Castillo (Baltimore Orioles) followed with a double, but were left behind.
Team USA got alongside in the third inning.
Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins) and Jonathan Lucroy (Texas Rangers) singled to put runners on first and third base.
A force out followed, but in this situation Stanton scored the first run.
With two outs, Christian Yelich (Miami Marlins) delivered an RBI-double that made it 2-2.
In the top of the fourth inning, the USA took a 4-2 lead.
Brandon Crawford (San Francisco Giants) led off with a single and Giancarlo Stanton followed with a homerun, which led to the departure of Dominican starter Ervin Santana (Minnesota Twins).
In the bottom of the seventh, the Dominicans got a run back off of reliever Tyler Clippard (New York Yankees) when Robinson Cano homered with one out.
Shortly before that, USA-centerfielder Adam Jones (Baltimore Orioles) had robbed (Baltimore-teammate) Manny Machado of a homerun with a great catch.
Jones caught the ball with his glove over the fence.
The USA immediately answered by scoring two insurance runs in the top of the eighth off of new pitcher Alex Colomé (Tampa Bay Rays).
He walked lead-off hitter Christian Yelich, then hit Eric Hosmer (Kansas City Royals) with a pitch with one out.
The two scored when Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) followed with a double to make it a 6-3 score.
In the afternoon, Puerto Rico remained unbeaten and closed Pool F with a big 13-2 victory against Venezuela, which was eliminated on Friday.
Puerto Rico is now one of two unbeaten teams in this years WBC, the other being Japan.
Both are 6-0.
Puerto Rico led only 3-0 after five innings, then both teams scored twice in the sixth at bat.
In the last three innings of the game, Puerto Rico added eight more runs to lift the lead to 13-2.
Puerto Rico collected 17 basehits, including four by Mike Aviles (Atlanta Braves) and three by Ángel Pagán (San Francisco Giants).
All nine Puerto Rican batters collected at least one basehit.
Eight of them scored at least once.
Carlos Correa (Houston Astros) and Kennys Vargas (Minnesota Twins) both scored three runs, while Aviles batted in three runs.
Vargas also contributed with a 2-run homerun in the ninth inning.
Venezuela registered only five basehits off of five pitchers, including a 2-run homerun by Rougned Odor (Texas Rangers) in the sixth inning.
That accounted for the lone two Venezuelan runs.
Netherlands loses exhibition game vs. Arizona Diamondbacks. (March 18)
Puerto Rico beats USA; Will meet Netherlands in Semi-Final. (March 17)
Dominicans shutout Venezuela. (March 16)
Netherlands to play exhibition game; Jansen joins team. (March 16)
USA comes from behind to win against Venezuela. (March 15)
Big W Netherlands vs. Cuba; in Semi-Finals after W Japan. (March 15)
Puerto Rico defeats Dominicans in Second Round-opener. (March 14)
Japan wins vs. Cuba, but Pool is not decided yet. (March 14)
Venezuela comes from behind & eliminates Italy. (March 13)
A dream come true for Dutch WBC-umpire Winfried Berkvens. (March 13)
Netherlands wins convincingly against Israel. (March 13)
Three teams qualify for 2nd Round; Tie-breaker Italy vs. Venezuela. (March 12)
Netherlands ends up short in extra innings vs. Japan. (March 12)
WBC-wins for Colombia, Venezuela & Dominican Republic. (March 11)
USA needs extra inning to win; Puerto Rico wins big. (March 10)
Cuba advances to Second Round WBC; Australia eliminated. (March 10)
Italy wins opener on walk-off single; Dominicans win big. (March 9)
Netherlands empty-handed vs. Israel; finishes 2nd in Pool. (March 9)
Orange in 2nd Round WBC after walk-off win; Israel also in. (March 8)
Netherlands opens WBC with shutout vs. South Korea. (March 7)
Israel upsets South Korea in WBC-opener with 10-inning win. (March 6)
Netherlands Team closes WBC-preparations with loss. (March 5)
Netherlands Team wins big in Korean exhibition game. (March 3)
Netherlands closes exhibition series in Arizona with loss. (February 25)
First game Netherlands vs. Twins ends in tie. (February 24)
Netherlands Team wins big in exhibition game vs. Geckos. (February 23)
Exhibition losses Netherlands Team in Arizona. (February 20)
Orange roster announced for World Baseball Classic. (February 8)
Netherlands Team to prepare in Arizona. (February 8)