Puerto Rico’s team scored three runs in the eighth inning to take the lead and eventually dominate Italy, 4-3, in what was a game not for the faint hearted. Thus, Puerto Rico is still alive in the World Baseball Classic with hopes of reaching the semifinals.
Puerto Rico went into the eighth inning, 3-1, before a largely Latino fan base at Marlins Park who supported them on every play (remember, Miami is a Latino city)
With Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran on third and first, Mike Aviles hit a grounder that forced out Molina, but Beltran sent home to score.
Then, for the second time in the tournament, Wicho Figueroa outshined. ‘Wichoteo’ (as he is popularly known) went on to hit a sacrifice fly that tied the game, 3-3, in the eighth inning scoring Mike Aviles for the third run for Puerto Rico to tie the game 3-3.
Following that, Andy Gonzalez grounded between third base and shortstop and the erratic fielding of Italy combined with a great running of Alexis Rios, who never stopped running from second to score the fourth and go ahead run for Puerto Rico.
In the ninth, Puerto Rico secured the three outs to secure the victory, with pitchers Hiram Burgos, JC Romero and Fernando Cabrera taking care of the rest. Burgos was the winner of the match, while Cabrera got the save.
Next for this Puerto Rico team that was not expected to go beyond the first round is to play on Friday the loser of the USA – Dominican Republic game who clash today, Thursday. If Puerto Rico wins that next game on Friday they will secure a spot to the semi-finals to play the team from the second group in San Francisco. The winner o fthat game will go to the finals.
Thanks to Noticel.com and Hermes Ayala for their contribution to this article.
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