Puerto Rico beats Italy to stay alive
MIAMI (AFP) –
Puerto Rico rallied from a 3-0 deficit to score three runs in the eighth inning and beat Italy 4-3 to remain alive in the World Baseball Classic.
Alex Rios scored the eventual game-winning run from second base on Andy Gonzalez’s infield hit in the eighth for Puerto Rico, which eliminated Italy from the tournament.
“We had to take advantage of our opportunities,” Rios said. “We did everything we had to do today.
“As you can see our team never quits. That’s our attitude and that’s what we are here for.”
Anthony Rizzo’s bases-clearing double gave the Italians a 3-0 lead in the fifth.
Yadier Molina then scored on a fielding error in the sixth to make it 3-1 for Italy.
Puerto Rico pitcher Hiram Burgos allowed three hits and struck out four batters in 3 2/3 innings.
Puerto Rico broke through for the lead in the eighth against Italian pitchers Brian Sweeney and Pat Venditte.
Carlos Beltran walked and Molina singled to put runners at first and third base for Puerto Rico. Sweeney replaced pitcher Nick Pugliese, and Mike Aviles beat out a potential double-play ball to make it 3-2.
Rios then hit a line single to right field to set up another first-and-third situation. Luis Figueroa’s sacrifice fly to centre field tied the game.
Gonzalez then hit a infield bouncer and the ball got past third baseman Alex Liddi. Shortstop Jack Santora’s throw to first was low and wide so Rios raced home.
Puerto Rico closer Fernando Cabrera fanned Liddi to end the game and record the save.
Puerto Rico next plays Friday against the loser of Thursday’s game between the USA and the Dominican Republic.
“We have to play small ball and move the runners over,” Rios said of the next game.