A day after taking pool title, Puerto Rico adds easy win
PUERTO RICO 13, VENEZUELA 2
Mike Aviles had four hits and drove in three runs as Puerto Rico, already assured a spot in the World Baseball Classic semifinals, beat Venezuela, 13-2, on Saturday in San Diego for its sixth straight win in the tournament.
Puerto Rico, runner-up to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 WBC, will play the Netherlands on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.
Kennys Vargas hit a two-run homer and Angel Pagan added a double and two singles as Puerto Rico had 17 hits. A day earlier, Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina helped Puerto Rico hold off the United States, 6-5, to clinch first place in Pool F.
Starter Jose De Leon pitched 22/3 scoreless innings for the win. Martin Perez took the loss.
Venezuela lost to Puerto Rico for the second time in this year’s WBC. It fell, 11-0, in an abbreviated first-round game shortened because of the mercy rule.
On Friday night, when Edwin Diaz struck out Josh Harrison to end the game with Brandon Crawford standing on third base, players raced out of the Puerto Rico dugout to join the celebration on the infield. After a few minutes in the clubhouse, the team returned to the field waving small flags and ran over to celebrate with a large group of fans on the first base side who were chanting, beating drums, rattling noisemakers and waving flags.
“We are happy for the job all the guys have done,” Beltran said. “I think the boys have done a good job playing for their country. We’re happy for our country and for our people.”
Puerto Rico advanced to the championship round for the second straight WBC. It reached the championship game in 2013 before losing to the Dominican Republic.
The other semifinal spot from Pool F was to go to the winner of Saturday night’s late game between the United States (1-1) and the Dominican Republic (1-1). That team will play Japan on Tuesday night. The championship game is scheduled for Wednesday night.