Puerto Rico came into Monday’s World Baseball Classic semifinal game against The Netherlands with an undefeated record, and they’ll carry that unblemished mark into Wednesday’s title contest as they notched a 4-3 extra innings triumph.
With one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th, Eddie Rosario launched a fly ball to center field that was hauled in by Jurickson Profar. After Profar caught the ball, Carlos Correa took off from third base and scored the winning run to send Puerto Rico to the final of the tournament.
With the victory, Puerto Rico has now won all seven games that they have played in so far in the tournament, and they will now face either Team USA or Japan in the final on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
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Puerto Rico also made it to the championship game in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but they fell to the Dominican Republic at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Correa played a huge role for the Puerto Rican squad in the game as he went 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored in the triumph. Carlos Beltran and Javier Baez also had two hits apiece for the team, and Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor went 3-for-5 with a run scored.
For the Dutch side, they got a big performance out of right fielder Wladimir Balentien, who went 3-for-4 with a two-run home run and two runs scored, but it wasn’t enough as their Cinderella run through the tournament came to a crashing halt.
The game got off to a great start for the Netherlands squad as they were staked to a 2-0 lead by Balentien’s home run, but Puerto Rico answered right back. Correa, a star for the Houston Astros, launched a two-run home run of his own to tie things up and give his team some momentum.
TJ Rivera hit a home run of his own in the bottom of the second to put Puerto Rico ahead, but the Netherlands wouldn’t go away quietly. Balentien scored the game-tying run in the top of the fifth inning, but the Dutch squad was unable to take the lead as a relay throw from Angel Pagan to Baez nailed Jonathan Schoop at the plate to keep things tied up.
The game would remain tied until extra innings, and the Puerto Rico squad got a huge lift from pitcher Edwin Diaz. Under Classic rules, the Netherlands started the 11th inning with runners on first and second, but Diaz was able to induce a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and give Puerto Rico a chance to win in the bottom of the frame.
That ultimately was all the team needed. With runners on first and second, Yadier Molina laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third, and Baez was then intentionally walked. Rosario then stepped up to the plate and drilled the first pitch he saw into center field, driving in Correa on the sacrifice fly to finish off the game.
Wednesday’s championship game will air on MLB Network, and first pitch is scheduled for 8 p.m. Central time.