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Perfect ending for Dominicans

Updated: 2013-03-21 07:35
By Agence France-Presse in San Francisco ( China Daily)

Perfect ending for Dominicans

The Dominican Republic players raise the trophy after beating Puerto Rico in the championship game of the World Baseball Classic in San Francisco on Tuesday. The 3-0 victory ended an undefeated run through the tournament. "This ball club is about emotion," said manager Tony Pena. "It is a unique group." Ben Margot / Associated Press

Tiny Caribbean nation wins its first WBC title in classic style

Edwin Encarnacion belted a two-run double in the first and Samuel Deduno pitched five shutout innings as the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico 3-0 to claim its first World Baseball Classic title.

It was the eighth-straight victory for the star-studded Dominicans as they easily won the all-Caribbean clash, becoming the first team to go undefeated in the brief history of the WBC.

"I can't describe the feeling," said shortstop Jose Reyes. "We did it for the whole country."

Erick Aybar batted 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the fifth inning for the Dominican Republic, which was the heavy favorite to win the previous WBC event in 2009 but failed to get past the first round.

Reliever Fernando Rodney, who turned 36 on Monday, got the final out, getting Puerto Rico batter Luis Figueroa to swing at an 83 mph changeup for the strikeout. Rodney has now saved seven of the Dominicans' eight wins.

The Dominicans then stormed the mound where they piled on Rodney and jumped for joy while fireworks lit the sky and confetti showered the field.

The game was played in soggy conditions as a steady rain began to fall in the fourth inning and continued throughout. But it didn't dampen the festive atmosphere of the crowd of 35,703 at AT&T Park, which blew whistles, banged drums and screamed in support of its Latin heroes.

The start of the post-final news conference was delayed for several minutes while Reyes and Robinson Cano, who was named MVP of the event, took a call from Dominican President Danilo Medina.

"This ball club is about emotion," said Dominican manager Tony Pena. "It is a unique group. We are going to enjoy every single moment of this because we don't know if this group is going to be together again. I doubt it."

Cano batted .469 overall with four doubles, two home runs and a tournament record 15 hits.

Dominican starting pitcher Deduno threw five innings, striking out five, and allowing no runs while walking three.

Deduno started quickly, retiring seven of the first eight batters he faced. He gave up a single to the first batter, Angel Pagan, but then settled in nicely, posting four strikeouts in the first two innings.

With the Dominicans leading 2-0 in the top of the fifth with two runners on base and two out, Deduno got out of a jam by striking out Pagan with an 81 mph curveball.

The stadium grounds crew had to make frequent trips to the pitcher's mound and home plate to put down fresh soil so the players would not slip on the wet ground.

Puerto Rico starter Giancarlo Alvarado struggled from the outset and lasted just one inning.

Alvarado surrendered two runs on two hits and walked one before he was pulled by manager Edwin Rodriguez. A career minor leaguer, Alvarado, who is one of Puerto Rico's returning players from the 2009 WBC team, spent the past three seasons in Japan.

"I noticed (Alvarado) was in trouble and that is why I changed him quickly," Rodriguez said.

Puerto Rico, which finished with five wins and four losses, had won its last three elimination games in a row, but couldn't generate any offense against Deduno and his stingy bullpen of Octavio Dotel, Pedro Strop, Santiago Casilla and Rodney.

"We are disappointed," Rodriguez said. "We had a chance to score in the first inning and we didn't and that would have made it a different ballgame."

Encarnacion blasted a two-run RBI double off Alvarado in the first to give the Dominicans a 2-0 lead.

Lead-off batter Reyes started it for the Dominicans with a double to right field.

Erick Aybar then hit a sacrifice bunt to move Reyes to third and Alvarado walked slugger Cano.

That set the stage for Encarnacion's double, which scored Reyes and Cano.

Four innings later, Aybar capped the scoring by hitting a two-out double to right field to score Alejandro De Aza to make it 3-0.

(China Daily 03/21/2013 page22)

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