In the fourth semifinal of the World Classic of Baseball, Puerto Rico faces Mexico in a battle that features two of the tournament’s heavyweights.
Three wins and one loss in pool play was good enough for Puerto Rico to place second in Pool D, behind undefeated Venezuela (4-0). Despite having the same record as the United States (3-1), Mexico won Pool C because they finished ahead of the United States (2-2).
The Mexico squad is slated to start Julio Urias, a pitcher for the Dodgers who hasn’t thrown since the opening game against Colombia. He had a spotless inning of work through four frames before allowing runs inside the fifth. To yet, Puerto Rico really hasn’t announced who would represent them.
It appears that these two squads are quite evenly matched, as each roster has produced comparable offensive outputs through four games. In the decisive game, Mexico’s outfielder Randy Arozarena put on a display by collecting two hits and five RBIs. He’s hitting.500 for the competition so far.
Mexicali’s Dramatic Victory Over Public Relations
On Friday evening at loanDepot park, Mexico outfielder Alex Verdugo gave a press conference previewing that evening’s World Baseball Championship quarterfinal showdown between his team and Puerto Rico.
The team is “eager to get on the field and battle our guts out,” Verdugo added. There are no guarantees in baseball.
When it came to this intense match, “anything” meant “everything,” and the entire stadium was on its feet cheering for Mexico all the way until they eventually won, 5-4, and will face Japan in the finals.
“We felt that it would be a terrific game,” México manager Benji Gil stated after the game. I hoped that baseball fans everywhere would have a good time at the game, and it sounds like they did.
Veteran players Javier Báez and Eddie Rosario hit back-to-back home runs for Team Puerto Rico in the first inning, but a resilient Mexican squad kept fighting.
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Instead of crumbling under the pressure of international scrutiny and falling behind by four runs, 24-year-old Isaac Paredes hit a single shot 412 feet into center field off Marcus Stroman in the next inning to stop Puerto Rico’s surge.
According to Paredes, “it was a challenging start for us, but we are working as a team. The game continued to be in balance after the home run, but there were still many innings to play. We acted, and as a result, we saw results.
Puerto Rico’s early barrage of home runs was the only inning of the night in which the team scored. Verdugo’s pregame speech rang true as five pitchers teamed to shut down Puerto Rico’s attack. According to Verdugo, “everything comes down to throwing” sooner in the conversation.
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The Top Dog
Clutch hitting by Paredes with 25-year-old Luis Uras in the seventh inning of a quarterfinal nail-biter was the icing on the cake for Mexico thanks to the excellent pitching they received throughout the game.
An early lead for Puerto Rico was erased as a two-run single by Paredes to left field against Jorge López was followed by a go-ahead single by Uras.
Without a guy who has shown he can make a challenge appear easy at any time, this high-energy game would have been lacking something.
An important comeback attempt was halted in the eighth inning thanks to a diving catch by Randy Arozarena at the line drive on a ball hit by Emmanuel Rivera, which allowed Giovanny Gallegos to seal the save with men at first and second.
‘Of course we understand what sort of player Randy is,’ Yadier Molina, manager of Puerto Rico, stated. His playing ability is superb. He eliminated us; we were unable to win. Yet, they did a fantastic job in the game. We got off to a great start, but the Mexican starters made some changes and held us to a scoreless inning.
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On Saturday afternoon, Mexico will begin training for their semifinal encounter versus Japan. Japan, unbeaten (4-0) in the competition, travels to Miami to face off against Pool C champions Brazil.
Gil remarked that Japan is also a formidable team with several notable players. They have tremendous stars playing in Japan, but we’re more familiar with the ones who play inside the United States.
Again, our opponent is the clear favourite to win the next matches, but we are not worried. This is not related to who is now popular. We have a lot of respect for Japan, of sure, but our attention is solely on the game at hand.
We’re committed, we’re going to give it our all, and, with any luck, we’ll be successful on Tuesday and play again on Tuesday.
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Before Mexico’s wild fourth-quarter celebration against Puerto Rico, the phrase “Baseball, anything can happen” was chanted across the stadium.