The WBC semifinal between the Netherlands and Puerto Rico promised to be a heavy weight bout from the very start and the two teams did not disappoint. In front of a crowd of nearly 25,000 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, both teams showed they were among the elite in the world, trading punches and mustering up all the energy and fight they possibly had, but in the end, thanks in large part to the controversial international extra innings rules, Puerto Rico was able to escape with a victory and move on to the WBC title game.
Eddie Rosario hit the game-winning sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 11th inning to score Carlos Correa from third, to give Puerto Rico the victory 4-3 over the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With the result, Puerto Rico advances to the WBC title game.
Locked at 3-3 entering the 11th inning, the Dutch had first crack at breaking the game open. Per international tiebreaker rule, the inning began with Dutch runners on first and second with no outs. The Netherlands used a sacrifice bunt to advance runners to second and third with just one out, but Puerto Rico followed with an intentional walk to load the bases.
Edwin Diaz then got Curt Smith to hit into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning and escape the jam unscathed.
In the bottom of the 11th, Puerto Rico used the same strategy with runners on first and second with no outs. Yadier Molina laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners to second and third. Javier Baez was then intentionally walked by the Dutch to load the bases.
Rosario strolled to the plate swiftly smacked a first pitch fastball from Loek Van Mil into center where Jurickson Profar was waiting. The infielder-turned-outfielder for the WBC made the play and tried his best to make a play at the plate, but Correa slid in safely at home, well ahead of the throw, sending the Puerto Rican bench into a frenzy as they rushed the field towards home plate.
In what will be remembered as a remarkable game, the teams were very evenly matched, but what separated the two squads on this night was Puerto Rico was able to capitalize on their opportunities when it mattered. While the international tiebreaker rules have been discussed extensively over the past few weeks, both teams were able to start with men on base.
Only one team was able to get a run out of the situation and that ultimately resulted in a win for Puerto Rico. Emotions did run high in this game, with the benches clearing for both side in the 10th. There was a ton of jawing from players on both sides, but the passion is what makes the WBC great.
With the victory, Puerto Rico remains perfect in this year's WBC and advances to the championship for the second straight WBC. In 2013, they finished second to eventual champion the Dominican Republic. For now, all eyes and ears for Puerto Rico will shift to tomorrow's other semifinal between Japan and the United States. Winner will take on Puerto Rico Wednesday night for the 2017 WBC title.