The United States upset defending champion Dominican Republic 6-3 to reach the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic where they will face two-time winners Japan.
Giancarlo Stanton hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the fourth inning for the Americans who reached the semi-finals of the international elite tournament for the first time since 2009.
“We beat a great team and held down a great lineup. These guys were ready to play. Tonight we were the better team,” said US manager Jim Leyland.
Andrew McCutchen added two-run double in the eighth at Petco Park and the US avenged a first-round loss to the Dominicans.
“It was good for us to show up and get this win tonight,” said McCutchen.
The US advanced to face Japan Tuesday Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Puerto Rico meets the Netherlands in the first semi-final Monday. Puerto Rico and Japan, both 6-0, are the only unbeaten teams in the tournament.
“I am looking forward to it (playing Japan). I am looking forward to getting the win,” said McCutchen.
The Dominican Republic, the reigning champs after winning all eight of its games in 2013, took a 2-0 lead in the first inning Saturday but could not keep pace with the US. They overcame a 5-0 deficit to beat the US 7-5 in first-round play last week.
Dominican Republic’s Manny Machado reached on an error by Brandon Crawford with one out in the first inning and scored on a Robinson Cano double off Danny Duffy. Carlos Santana singled in Cano.
The Americans made their move a short time later as Stanton and Jonathan Lucroy singled to open the third inning. Stanton scored on Ian Kinsler’s forceout at second. Christian Yelich’s two-out double tied the game 2-2.
Crawford singled with two outs in the fourth inning before Stanton hammered a pitch into the second balcony down the left-field line for a 4-2 lead.
Sam Dyson got five outs, and Luke Gregerson pitched the ninth for a save.
The Dominican Republic left runners on first and second with one out in the first inning and runners on second and third with no outs in both the second and fifth innings.
In the early game, Kennys Vargas smacked a two-run home run as undefeated Puerto Rico, already assured a semi-final berth, routed Venezuela 13-2.
Puerto Rico’s Francisco Lindor, who sat out the contest in advance of Monday’s matchup, declined to declare his squad the team to beat.
“We haven’t beaten everybody yet so I don’t want to say we’re the best team in the world,” Lindor said. “We haven’t won anything yet. We’re a confident team and we’re playing really well.”
Venezuela pulled within 5-2 in the sixth inning when Rougned Odor smashed a two-run homer over the centrefield wall.
But Puerto Rico broke open the contest with five runs in the seventh, Mike Aviles smacking a two-run single and scoring on Rene Rivera’s double. Angel Pagan added a run-scoring single and Carlos Correa drove in a run with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly.
An error by Venezuelan third baseman Jose Altuve in the eighth allowed another run to score and Puerto Rico completed its scoring on Vargas’ ninth-inning blast.
Join GhanaStar.com to receive daily email alerts of breaking news in Ghana. GhanaStar.com is your source for all Ghana News. Get the latest Ghana news, breaking news, sports, politics, entertainment and more about Ghana, Africa and beyond.