Team Puerto Rico will enter the World Baseball Classic semifinals as one of two undefeated teams on Monday. They dominated Venezuela on Saturday afternoon, capitalizing on a strong showing from starter Jose De Leon and putting up a five-spot in the seventh inning en route to a 13-2 finish.
Jose De Leon and Giovanni Soto combined for five scoreless frames to start the game, limiting Venezuela to just four total baserunners before Hiram Burgos took the mound in the sixth. Team Venezuela promptly bounced back with a two-run homer from Rougned Odor, but failed to build on that momentum during the last three innings of the afternoon.
While Venezuela struggled to find their footing, Puerto Rico tacked on another five runs in the seventh inning. They boosted their advantage to an eight-run lead with a handful of RBI singles from Mike Aviles and Angel Pagan, a double from Rene Rivera and a sacrifice double play off the bat of Carlos Correa. A throwing error gave them an extra run in the eighth inning, and by the ninth, their eight-run surplus had ballooned to eleven runs after Kennys Vargas went deep in Puerto Rico’s only home run of the game.
The semifinals are scheduled to kick off in Los Angeles on Monday, when Team Puerto Rico will take on the Netherlands at 9 PM EDT. The winner of the Dominican Republic-USA game on Saturday night will determine which Pool F runner-up will face Japan (and their undefeated 6-0 record) on Tuesday.
Team Puerto Rico has emerged from Pool D undefeated after taking down Team Italy on Sunday for its third victory. They’re moving onto the next round, Pool F.
Italy opened up with two runs in the top of the first on John Andreloi’s two-run home run off of starter Jose Berrios. Puerto Rico struck back for a run in the bottom half on a Javier Baez single. Drew Butera homered in the second to put Italy back up two runs at 3-1. From there, however, it was all Puerto Rico.
An Enrique Hernandez single and a run-scoring ground ball double play from Angel Pagan tied the game up at 3-3 in the bottom of the second. Carlos Beltran doubled in a run in the third to give P.R. the lead. Carlos Correa drilled a three-run home run in the fourth to make it 7-3. Hernandez tripled in a run, then scored in the fifth to make it 9-3.
Berrios wound up pitching five innings, giving up the three runs on two hits and a walk with six strikeouts. He threw 62 pitches in total. Hiram Burgos took over in the sixth and pitched three no-hit innings, yielding just a walk with one strikeout on 36 pitches. Miguel Mejia pitched the ninth, working around a one-out single to close out the ballgame with a 9-3 victory for Puerto Rico.
Puerto Rico has advanced from Pool D to the next round, Pool F. They’re joined by the D.R. which also won its third game on Sunday. Pool F opens up play on Tuesday at Petco Park in San Diego. Italy is now 1-2 and awaits the results of Sunday night’s game between Venezuela (1-1) and Mexico (0-2).