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Puerto Rico Gains Measure Of Revenge Against The Dominicans In World Baseball Classic

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SAN DIEGO—Puerto Rico waited four years for this matchup. After losing to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 World Baseball Classic championship game, there was no team the Puerto Ricans wanted to face more. When the matchup finally came Tuesday night, Puerto Rico made the most of its chance to exact a measure of revenge. Yadier Molina homered and drove in two, Eddie Rosario chipped in with an RBI double and a sensational throw to the plate, and Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic 3-1 to open second-round play at Petco Park. "The motivation was there,” Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "We were waiting for this for four years, and they were at their best.” The win puts Puerto Rico in the early drivers seat to the advance out of the pool to the semifinals, and snaps the Dominicans’ 11-game WBC win streak that dates back to their 2013 championship run. "This victory, we went to play ball and we went to kill it,” said Molina, one of eight players on Puerto Rico’s roster returning from the 2013 team. "We executed a great game.” The 34-year-old catcher played a central role in the win. He put Puerto Rico up right away with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the first. In the top of the inning, he had received a bullet throw from Rosario and placed a perfect tag on Jean Segura at the plate to end the frame, enthusiastically signaling an out call before the umpire did for added effect. And in the sixth, he launched a leadoff home run to give Puerto Rico some breathing room with a 3-1 lead, sending his teammates jumping and streaming out of the dugout. "As Yadier Molina goes, the team goes,” Rodriguez said. "He’s the heart of the team.” All the while, Molina guided an undermanned pitching staff through the vaunted Dominican lineup, which managed just six hits and one run after scoring 26 runs in its first three games. For good measure, Molina also ended the eighth inning with a laser to second to catch Nelson Cruz stealing. "We knew what's going on because we're facing a good team, and we executed. That's the important thing,” Molina said. "The pitchers executed every time. I mean, the whole time. I think we got only one bad pitch . . . and then after that it was all done.” Rosario similarly felt the sting of losing as a member of the 2013 Puerto Rico squad, and unleashed his pent-up irritation in highlight-reel fashion to stamp out the Dominicans’ best offensive chance of the night. With the bases loaded and one out in the first, Rosario pulled down Carlos Santana’s liner to right and unleashed the perfect one-hopper to Molina that nailed Segura for a momentum-swinging, inning-ending double play. "I threw with everything in my arm,” Rosario said. "I concentrated to take this guy at home plate. It's for my patria (homeland). I do everything for my patria.” When Rosario returned to the dugout, he was greeted by a series of enthusiastic chest bumps, including one so emphatic from Carlos Correa it knocked Rosario on his backside. "When that play was completed, that provided the energy throughout the game,” Rodriguez said. "This clubhouse, with that particular play at home plate in the first inning, that was the game.” Rosario provided a game-changing play in the batters box as well. Cruz’s leadoff homer in the second inning had tied the game 1-1, but Rosario put Puerto Rico back on top in the fourth. Javier Baez reached on a throwing error by Dominican third baseman Adrian Beltre to lead off the frame, and Rosario promptly stepped the plate against Carlos Martinez (0-1) and launched an RBI double deep to the right-center field gap to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 edge. Puerto Rico’s pitching staff took care of the rest, with four relievers combining for 6.2 shutout innings and backed by errorless play from the defense. Hector Santiago (1-0) picked up the win with 2.2 scoreless and Edwin Diaz
Simeon Wood Richardson (Dipace)266974

Team USA's Pool Play Finale Canceled Due To Rain, Lightning

Team USA led Puerto Rico, 6-1, in the fourth inning on Thursday when the game was canceled due to rain and lightning in the area.

finished off the final 1.1 innings for the save, including a strikeout of Segura to end it. "The credit goes to all the pitchers,” Molina said. "I study. I study the game. I have an idea what I'm going to call. Now, if that pitcher doesn't execute, obviously they're going to be upset. When they do well, that speaks well to me, and we have to give them credit when they've done an incredible job with us.” While Puerto Rico was sharp in all facets, the Dominicans were marred by missed opportunities and miscues. They stranded nine men on base and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Their pitchers combined for four walks and a hit batter. Their one error, Beltre’s throw, proved critical. To top it all off, manager Tony Pena was ejected by home plate umpire Will Little in the top of the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes. "This happens,” Pena said. "We’re human beings, we’re not robots. The streak that we’ve won these games, one of these days it was bound to end.” While the Dominicans’ streak ended, Puerto Rico’s continued. They’ve won four straight to open the 2017 WBC, now including one to silence the demons that have haunted them for four years. "I came back here to play against the Dominicans,” Rosario said. "It's everything for Puerto Rico. You look at the Dominicans, they never lose. It was a good game today. I feel blessed today.”

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