Photo: 2013 WBC Final: Dominican Republic v Puerto Rico
The World Baseball Classic final will be an all-Caribbean affair after the Dominican Republic scored a convincing 4-1 win over the Netherlands at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
The Dominicans have been on a mission in 2013, four years after suffering a shock first-round exit from this international competition due to two one-run losses to the Dutch squad.
In the third edition of the WBC, the Caribbean nation has reached the final with a perfect 7-0 record, including Monday’s win over the Netherlands, and will next take on Puerto Rico, who eliminated two-time defending champion Japan with a 3-1 victory in the first semifinal on Sunday.
The Netherlands took an early lead when shortstop Andrelton Simmons scored on a RBI groundout off the bat of Wladimir Balentien in the top of the first inning.
Starting pitcher Diegomar Markwell made that advantage hold up for four innings, but in the bottom of the fifth the Dominican Republic’s explosive lineup came alive when the southpaw started missing the strike zone and falling behind the count.
Carlos Santana and Moises Sierra got the fireworks started with back-to-back doubles that tied the score at 1-1.
Shortstop Jose Reyes then drove in Sierra and subsequently moved to third base on a single by veteran infielder Miguel Tejada.
Manager Hensley Muelens responded by yanking Markwell and turning the ball over to Tom Stuifbergen, but the Dutch squad’s woes continued when the Dominicans stretched their lead to 3-1 on a wild pitch by the reliever.
First baseman Edwin Encarnacion then drove in Tejada for the fourth and final run of the game.
With the three-run lead in hand, Dominican starter Edinson Volquez was removed from the game and right-hander Kelvin Herrera came on and continued to shut down the Dutch batters.
Pedro Strop and Fernando Rodney capped off the strong pitching effort in the eighth and ninth innings to send the Caribbean nation into the final.
Volquez got the win and Markwell took the loss.
The Dominican Republic will be seeking its third straight win over Puerto Rico in Tuesday’s final, after defeating the U.S. commonwealth 4-2 in the first round and then 2-0 in a second-round contest to determine seedings for the semifinals.
The only other Caribbean squad to reach the World Baseball Classic final was Cuba, which lost 10-6 to Japan in the competition’s inaugural championship game in 2006.