Thanks to a big first inning and a crucial sixth inning error, Puerto Rico is on their way to the World Baseball Classic semi-finals. They earned a thrilling 6-5 win over USA at Petco Park in San Diego on Friday night. Puerto Rico joins Japan and the Netherlands in the semi-finals, which is WBC’s version of the final four.
Puerto Rico opened Friday’s game with six consecutive base hits against Marcus Stroman, which, when paired with a sac fly, gave them an early 4-0 lead. USA chipped away in the middle innings and managed to close the gap to 4-3, but a Nolan Arenado throwing error in the sixth allowed Puerto Rico to plate two huge insurance runs. USA scored two in the ninth but left the tying run at third base. Alas.
So far Puerto Rico is a perfect 5-0 during the 2017 WBC. Japan is the only other undefeated team. They’re 6-0. Puerto Rico was the runner-up to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 WBC and now they’ll have another shot at a championship. USA, meanwhile, needs a win Saturday night to advance. A loss sends them home.