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Venezuela Remains Undefeated: 2-0 and First Place in Pool D

Team Venezuela celebrates their 9-6 victory over Team Puerto Rico on Sunday night March 12th - Image Credit: World Baseball Classic/MLB

NEW YORK– Let’s cut to the chase: Team Venezuela is no joke. José Altuve, Ronald Acuña  Jr. and the Venezuelan squad picked up right where they left off from Saturday night’s victory over Team Dominican Republic to Sunday evening. In the second game of their Pool D play, Team Venezuela defeated Team Puerto Rico by a final score of 9-6 to move to 2-0, and currently sit in first place throughout the group. 

Once home plate umpire Chris Guccione said ‘Play Ball,’ Venezuela zoned in, and focused on their mission, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning. Salvador Perez began Venezuela’s tacking on the scoreboard, by delivering Altuve in with an opposite field single, and moving Acuña Jr., who reached on a walk, over from first to third base. 

Anthony Santander followed up with a three-run home run off Puerto Rico’s starter José Berríos, scoring Perez, and Acuña Jr., which had a record attendance of 35, 615 at loanDepot Park morph into a frenzy. 

And if that wasn’t enough, Venezuela totaled seven runs in the first two innings and forced Puerto Rico to pull Berríos earlier than what was expected. Berríos faced 11 batters, totaled 38 pitches across one inning, and was responsible for allowing six runs on five hits, two walks, (one HR). 

Venezuela’s Pablo López, displayed his dominance on the mound, allowing one run while completing 4.2 innings of two hit ball with six strikeouts. 

“I know what it means to wear the Venezuelan jersey, I was very proud,” López said. “We’re here just not representing ourselves as individuals, but an entire community, the next generation of players, and then it’s a wonderful feeling.” 

“I really can’t describe it. I get goosebumps thinking about it because it’s just very surreal.”

Overall, the 7-0 deficit suffered in the first two innings was too much for Puerto Rico to overcome. Though ‘Team Rubio’ fought back on several occasions with runners in scoring position, Venezuela laid their firepower out on the diamond, and shut the door on any comeback. 

Relievers Andres Machado, Jhoulys Chacín, and Silvino Bracho led the stable in the bullpen, allowing five hits across 4.1 innings. Bracho forced a clutch double play in the eighth to escape a jam and earned the save, retiring the final five batters of the game. 

“There is no rest,” Team Venezuela manager Omar López said. “The guys are committed, and they want to win.”


Puerto Rico (1-1) faces Team Israel (1-0) on Monday evening at 7:00pm ET – broadcast on FS1 (Fox Sports 1). 

Venezuela (2-0) will take on Team Nicaragua (0-2), Tuesday afternoon at 12:00pm ET – broadcast on FS2 (Fox Sports 2).

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Robert Rizzo is a journalist and co-editor of Latino Sports


Watch Sports with Rich live on Tuesday Nights at 8pm EST on The SLG Network/Youtube with host Rich Mancuso and co-host Robert Rizzo

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