The Dominican Republic beat the Netherlands 4-1 Monday to reach the World Baseball Classic final on Tuesday against Puerto Rico. The Dominicans are undefeated in this year’s WBC and have already beaten Puerto Rico twice in the tournament including a 2-0 win on Saturday.
The Netherlands scored in the first inning off an RBI-groundout from Wladimir Balentien but were held in check the rest of the game. Edinson Volquez of the San Diego Padres got the start for the Dominicans, pitching five innings and giving up the one run in the first before settling down.
Volquez went on to strikeout five and give up two hits before being relieved by Kelvin Herrera of the Kansas City Royals. The fifth inning was the turning point in the contest as Moises Sierra hit an RBI-double to tie the game at one before Jose Reyes added the go-ahead single. The Dominicans scored two more times in the fifth inning and received great relief pitching the rest of the way to reach the WBC final.
Puerto Rico knocked out Japan on Sunday to reach their first WBC final. Japan has won the first two WBC championships but were sent home early by the surging Puerto Ricans.
Puerto Rico lost to the United States 7-1 early in the second round of the WBC but beat Italy 4-3 for a chance at redemption with the United States. Puerto Rico won the rematch with Team USA 4-3 to earn a spot in the final round.
The Dominican Republic’s win over the Netherlands was much more than just a ticket to the finals as the Netherlands knocked out the Dominicans in the first round of the 2009 classic. The Dominicans broke out in the fifth inning Monday to redeem themselves after the disappointing elimination in 2009.
Fernando Rodney wasn’t taking any chances and not only closed the game out in the ninth with two strikeouts in a perfect inning but also brought along a plantain for good luck. The major food staple was sent in from Rodney’s family in the Dominican Republic and made its way around the Dominican clubhouse.
The Dominicans have been the best team in the classic this year, but it won’t matter Tuesday when they take on Puerto Rico. Everything up to the final is washed out, and it’s win or go home empty-handed for both teams. The Dominican Republic beat the Netherlands 4-1 Monday and are just one win away from having the WBC title all to themselves.