Puerto Rico rallies in eighth to eliminate Italy from WBC

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Puerto Rico scored three times in the bottom of the eighth to beat Italy 4-3 and keep its World Baseball Classic hopes alive on Wednesday night.

Italy was eliminated after losing its second straight game.

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo put Italy on the board in the fifth, delivering a bases-loaded double that plated three runs. That was all the offense could muster, though, and it proved to be insufficient after poor defense led to a run in the sixth and an awful managing decision and some additional lousy glovework opened the door for a rally in the eighth.

Puerto Rico had its big guns due up in the eighth, with Carlos Beltran being followed by Yadier Molina, Mike Aviles and Alex Rios. The obvious decision should have been to go to Jason Grilli, Italy’s one major league pitcher, with the hopes that Brian Sweeney or someone else could have handled the lesser lights in the ninth.

Instead, Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez decided to save Grilli for the ninth. Chris Cooper, who had pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, stayed in to face Beltran, walked him on four pitches and was pulled. Nick Pugilese then gave up a hit to Molina. Sweeney came in and retired one of the two batters he faced. Finally, Pat Venditte came in and surrendered the lead. With no ninth-inning rally forthcoming, Italy lost without ever using its best pitcher.

Puerto Rico will now face the loser of Thursday’s U.S.-Dominican Republic matchup. The winner of both games will clinch spots in the semifinals.

Yusmeiro Petit pitched shortly after his mother passed away on Monday

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Athletics reliever Yusmeiro Petit found out his mother passed away on Monday prior to his team’s game against the Rangers, Martin Gallegos of The Mercury News reports. Petit decided to pitch anyway, turning 1 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, limiting the Rangers to just one hit.

Manager Bob Melvin said, “I was amazed. Didn’t expect it.”

It’s admirable — though certainly not expected — when a player pitches shortly after suffering a personal loss. Some people like adhering to their routine while grieving.

Petit was added to the bereavement list on Tuesday. He will spend some time away from the team for the funeral. We send our heartfelt condolences to the Petit family.