Team USA advances to the semifinals with a 6-3 defeat of the defending champion Dominican Republic. It was an instant classic, and the first time the USA has beaten the DR in the World Baseball Classic.
It didn’t start well for Team USA falling behind 2-0 after an inning of play. Brandon Crawford didn’t help the American effort throwing a ball away in the first allowing 1 of the runs scored to be unearned. USA starter Danny Duffy pitched well despite giving up 6 hits in 4.0 innings of work. In the 2nd inning Duffy allowed a lead off single from Gregory Polanco. Then Welington Castillo doubled putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with no outs. Duffy, though, would work his way out of it without giving up a run. That was a huge boost for Team USA.
In the next half inning the USA would tie the game. The first run came around after Giancarlo Stanton singled to start the inning. With Stanton running, Johnathan Lucroy singled up the middle putting runners at the corners. Ian Kinsler would knock in the first run with a ground out, then two batters later Christian Yelich doubled in the gap to bring Kinsler around from first to tie the game.
But the big blow came an inning later. In what is clearly one of the hardest balls hit in recent memory, Giancarlo Stanton hit a 2-run laser of a home run to left giving the USA a 4-2 lead. And something you have to see.
But that may not have been the play of the game. Up 4-2 in the bottom of the 7th, Manny Machado led off for the Dominican Republic. He hit a blast to center field that was about to cut the lead in half, until the new Captain America Adam Jones made one of the most spectacular catches. Again, it is something you have to see.
Jones timed it perfectly and robbed a ball that was going a few rows deep. The next batter, Robinson Cano, did hit a solo home run that cut the lead to 4-3. Without Jones’ catch the game would have been tied.
The USA extended its lead in the 8th on a 2-run double by Andrew McCutchen, which is a player that the Americans really need to get going at the plate. His double really sealed the game for the USA.
Sam Dyson pitched 1.2 innings in relief shutting down the DR bats at a key time in the game.
Gregory Polanco quietly went 3-for-4 with a double.
Dellin Betances was unhittable once again. He pitched an inning in relief striking out 2.
Jumbo Diaz also struck out 2 in an inning of work.
The USA will now face off with Japan in one semifinal game on Tuesday. The other semifinal match up will be the Netherlands and Puerto Rico on Monday. The winners will face each other for the 2017 World Baseball Classic Championship on Wednesday night in Los Angeles.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.