Dominicans set up all-Caribbean WBC final
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) –
Jose Reyes smacked the go-ahead RBI single as the Dominican Republic rallied for a four-run fifth inning to beat the Netherlands 4-1 and advance to their first World Baseball Classic final.
The favoured Dominicans were looking for redemption in Monday’s semi-final against the Netherlands who beat them twice in the 2009 event, knocking them out of the tournament.
“This is awesome. It is not something you do every day,” said Dominican pitcher Edinson Volquez. “It is like we have this one mission, just winning and winning as a team.”
The Dominicans will play Puerto Rico in an all-Caribbean championship game on Tuesday. Puerto Rico shocked two-time defending champions Japan 3-1 in the first semi-final on Sunday.
“The Baseball Classic is going to be the Caribbeans,” said Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena. “It could be Puerto Rico or us but it is going to belong to the Caribbeans.”
Reyes batted two-for-four, had one RBI and scored a run while Miguel Tejada batted two-for-four and had a run for the Dominicans who are a perfect 7-0 in the tournament.
Starter Volquez threw five innings, allowing just two hits, one run and striking out five batters in front of a crowd of 27,527 at AT&T Park. Volquez got help from four relievers who allowed just two hits over four innings.
Netherlands starter Diegomar Markwell allowed six hits, four runs and walked one in 4 2/3 innings.
Markwell, who pitches in the Netherlands domestic league, gave up all four runs as he was facing a roster full of Major League Baseball stars.
“He pitched pretty good until the fifth inning when they scored four runs,” Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. “He left a couple of balls up.”
Righthander Fernando Rodney got the final out of the game with a strikeout of Netherlands batter Jonathan Schoop, who got caught looking on an 81 mph changeup.
That touched off a celebration in the dugout and on the field as the Dominicans charged the mound to mob Rodney.
Some two hours before the game, the stands at AT&T Park were filled with Dominican supporters dressed in blue and white, waving the national flag and swaying back and forth to Merengue music.
With no US team remaining organizers lowered tickets prices to as cheap as five dollars for the semi-finals.
The Netherlands were please they got as far as they did, becoming the first European team to reach the semis in the three-tournament history of the World Baseball Classic.
“They (Dominicans) took it for granted in 2009, but they came to play this year and that is why they are undefeated,” Meulens said.
The Dominicans broke the game open with four runs in the bottom of the fifth.
They tied the game on back-to-back doubles down the left field line by Carlos Santana and Moises Sierra before Reyes smacked a two-out RBI single to centre field to score Sierra and make it 2-1.
Tejada then singled to centre field moving Reyes into scoring position at third base.
That led to a pitching change as righthander Tom Stuifbergen replaced starter Markwell.
Stuifbergen’s first pitch was in the dirt allowing Reyes to charge home from third and make it 3-1.
Dominican first baseman Edwin Encarnacion then singled on a line drive to centre field later in the same inning, scoring Tejada to make it 4-1.
In the first, Wladimir Balentien hit a grounder off righthander Volquez that scored Andrelton Simmons from third for the Netherlands’ lone run of the game.