World Baseball Classic scores, results, highlights: Puerto Rico tops Netherlands to reach championship game

Puerto Rico is heading back to the World Baseball Classic championship game. They beat the Netherlands 4-3 in 11 innings (box score) in their semifinal game at Dodger Stadium on Monday night to clinch a spot in the final. The Netherlands, meanwhile, is heading home. Puerto Rico is a perfect 7-0 in the WBC.

Monday’s game started with a wild first inning, which featured an epic baserunning blunder by Jurickson Profar and a monster two-run home run by Wladimir Balentien. Balentien’s bat flip was not subtle:

Puerto Rico answered right back courtesy of Carlos Correa’s two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning. They took a 3-2 lead on T.J. Rivera’s solo home run in the second inning, then the Netherlands rallied to tie in the fifth. Catcher Shawn Zarraga doubled in the tying run, and it would have been a two-run double had Puerto Rico not executed a perfect relay to the plate.

Here is Yadier Molina slapping the tag on Jonathan Schoop before he crossed the plate. He was called out during the live play and replay confirmed the call was correct.

The score remained tied 3-3 until the 11th inning, when the weird extra-inning rules kicked in. The Netherlands started the top of the 11th with runners on first and second, but failed to score thanks to a bunt and a double play. Puerto Rico then started the bottom of the 11th with runners on first and second. Molina bunted the runners up, Javier Baez was intentionally walked to set up the double play, and Eddie Rosario smacked a winning sac fly.

Here’s the video of Rosario’s sacrifice fly:

Tensions ran high in the late innings, as Edwin Diaz ran a fastball up near Balentien’s head in the 10th inning and the benches briefly cleared. There were no punches thrown or anything like that. Diaz rebounded to strike out Balentien and Schoop, then pounded his chest as he walked off the field. You can’t beat baseball like this in March, folks.

With the win, Puerto Rico returns to the WBC title game after finishing as the runner-up to the Dominican Republic in 2009. That team didn’t have Correa, Baez and Francisco Lindor on the infield, however. Puerto Rico will play the winner of Tuesday’s semifinal between the United States and Japan game in Wednesday’s winner-take-all championship game. Here’s how to watch the USA-Japan game.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, reached the semifinal for the second straight WBC, and they continue to do a little better each time around. They were knocked out in the first round in 2006, in the second round in 2009, and in the semifinals in 2013. This year they returned to the semifinals and played a much more competitive game than their 4-1 loss to the Dominican Republic in 2013. Dutch baseball is trending in a positive direction.

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