A day af­ter tak­ing pool ti­tle, Puerto Rico adds easy win

PUERTO RICO 13, VENEZUELA 2

The Washington Post Sunday - - WASHINGTONPOST.COM/SPORTS -

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.

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