Friday night’s World Baseball Classic between Puerto Rico and Team USA was a must win for both teams.
Team Puerto Rico knew they had to come up with clutch hits and good pitching. Team USA on the other hand had to wake up and realize the pitching was there yet the clutch hits were not present.
Yet for team PR it worked perfectly as Mike Aviles drove in the first run on top of the first with a single. Then came the big blow as Puerto Rico got another run on a bases loaded walk to first baseman Carlos Rivera as he hit a two run double to left to increase the lead to 4-0.
In reality the real hero of the game was winning pitcher Puerto Rico’s right-handed Nelson Figueroa who dominated US hitters through six. He eventually would get his second victory at the classic.
Despite Puerto Rico’s dominance, Team USA still had a chance to tie.
In the bottom of 8th inning with bases loaded, Team USA got within one run of leveling the game, Unfortunately for the Americans, the bullpen for Team PR kept them at bay. As a result, the Joe Torre managed American sqaud went quietly in the ninth with PR winning 4-3 over USA.
Ryan Vogelson took the loss. In reality, he was not the reason why they lost. Three reason why Team USA is officially eliminated from the World Baseball Classic: No consistent hitting, no middle relief and overconfidence.
As for Puerto Rico the real test is the next day again the undefeated team their sister/brother nation the Dominican Republic.
Here’s my thoughts from Puerto Rico’s victory over Italy
A Viendigo!! Ave Maria!!! That was the shot out as Team Puerto Rico heard while playing “Stay Alive Game” against Team Italy. Team Puerto Rico had scored 12 runs lowest of any team in the World Baseball Classic 2013.
Puerto Rico team left close to over 8 men on base! Going 0 for 9 with men on base! Team Italy struck first scoring three runs on a bases clearing double by Anthony Rizzo on top of the 5th inning and that was all she wrote.
In the bottom of the 6th inning with Carlos Rivera hit a ball which passed by Team Italy’s shortstop with 2 Outs. In the Bottom of 8th Carlos Beltran gets to Third Base on a single by Yader Molina! Then Shortstop Mike Aviles came up beat out a Double Play with Beltran scoring.
Then Alex Rios came up who was 0 for 3 for the game suddenly: Got a single, Aviles goes to third; Luis Figueroa pitch hitting hit a sacrifice fly Puerto Rico tied it up 3-3. Andy Gonzalez came up with two outs: The announcers stated “That ball smelled trouble the moment he hit it” They were so right!
A throwing error to First Base Rios scores from Second Base! Relief pitchers Hiriam Burgos/Fernando Cabrera came in to finish the job! Burgos got the win, Cabrera got the save, and Brian Sweeney took the lost.
How did Team Italy lose? Errors on field, Not Hitting, no consistency in their relief pitching. That’s when as they say in Spanish“METE MANO” in English means TAKING ADVANTAGE and that’s exactly what Puerto Rico did.
This article was written by Ismael Nunez. Born and raised in East Harlem. Nunez is a contributing writer for several online publications. Involved in with New York’s Latino community, Nunez is an advocate for change. He holds a degree in media and communications from Hunter College.