Yadier Molina homered and hit an RBI single to lead exuberant Puerto Rico to a 3-1 victory against the Dominican Republic in the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.
Eddie Rosario doubled in the go-ahead run in the fourth and also threw out a runner at the plate for Puerto Rico, which snapped the Dominicans’ 11-game WBC winning streak.
It was a rematch of the 2013 WBC title game, which the Dominicans won 3-0 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
The small but peppy crowd at Petco Park chanted, clapped, waved flags and banged cowbells throughout the game.
The Puerto Ricans responded with the joy of Little Leaguers. After right fielder Rosario threw out Jean Segura at the plate with a one-hopper to catcher Molina to end the top of the first, pitcher Orlando Roman jumped in the air while Molina punched the air in celebration. Teammates converged on Rosario and chest-bumped him so hard he fell down.
After Molina threw out Nelson Cruz trying to steal second to end the eighth, the catcher again jumped for joy and the infielders practically skipped off the field. Second baseman Javier Baez threw the ball all the way into the third deck at Petco Park.
Edwin Diaz struck out Segura to earn the save and an emotional hug from Molina. One of the Puerto Rico players tossed the rosin bag in the air.
The Puerto Ricans won Pool D in Jalisco, Mexico.
Cruz homered for the Dominicans, who won Pool C in Miami before large, boisterous crowds.
Dominican manager Tony Pena was ejected after arguing a strike call in the eighth. He ran out and got into umpire Will Little’s face, and then slipped and fell to the ground.
Molina hit a broken-bat bloop single off St. Louis Cardinals teammate Carlos Martinez (0-1) with two outs in the first to bring in Francisco Lindor.
Molina lined a home run to left field on Hector Neris’ first pitch of the sixth to give Puerto Rico a 3-1 lead.
With the score tied at 1, Baez beat out an infield single with one out in the bottom of the fourth and took second on a throwing error by third baseman Adrian Beltre. Rosario followed with a double to right-center that bounced into the stands and was caught by the same fan who caught Cruz’s homer in the second.
Cruz connected against Orlando Roman leading off the second, with the fan catching the ball right at the top of the wall. The homer was reviewed and the umpires decided there was no fan interference.
On Saturday, Cruz’s three -run homer off Andrew Miller in the eighth led the Dominicans to a thrilling comeback victory against the United States.
The U.S. opens second-round play Wednesday night against Venezuela.
The Dominicans loaded the bases with no outs in the first against Roman but failed to score. Jose Bautista struck out on a checked swing and Carlos Santana flied to Rosario, who threw out Segura at home.
With runners on first and second and one out in the third, Carlos Santana of the Dominican Republic hit a long, loud fly ball to left that Angel Pagan tracked down in front of the wall.
Hector Santiago (1-0) pitched 2 2/3 innings for the win.