The US and the Dominican Republic both posted come-from-behind victories on Sunday to win their respective pools and advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Adam Jones belted the go-ahead two-run double in the eighth and pitcher Heath Bell earned the win as the US rallied to beat Canada 9-4 in a winner-take-all contest.
Robinson Cano had three hits and blasted a fifth-inning home run to help lift the Dominicans to a 4-2 win over hosts Puerto Rico, in a battle for first place in Pool C.
“It was like a game seven and we don’t need to get pumped up for a game seven,” US outfielder Jones said. “We were just fortunate to get bigger hits.”
The US finished first in Pool D and are to play Pool C runners-up Puerto Rico in one of two second-round games today in Miami. Pool C top-seed Dominican Republic are to face reigning European champions Italy in the other game.
The US fell into a 2-0 hole early and trailed 3-2 after seven innings, but Jones’ double off Canada pitcher Jimmy Henderson put the US ahead to stay, in front of a crowd of 19,413 at Chase Field in Phoenix.
Jones finished with three RBI for the US, who eventually broke the game open with another four runs in the ninth.
US catcher Jonathan Lucroy had an RBI single in the final inning before Eric Hosmer cleared the bases with a double.
Bell, who plays in the major leagues for the Arizona Diamondbacks, posted the win with a scoreless seventh inning and then pitcher Steve Cisek got out of a bases-loaded eighth-inning jam by getting Canada’s Tim Smith to ground out to end the inning.
Prior to Sunday’s game, officials announced that there would be no further discipline against the Canada or Mexico players who were involved in a ninth-inning bench-clearing brawl the day before.
Mexico, who appeared to start the fight, had four players ejected. Three Canada players were tossed during Canada’s 10-3 romp, which resulted in Mexico being eliminated from the tournament.
Miguel Cabrera smacked four RBIs as Venezuela scored six runs in the fourth inning to beat Spain 11-6 in a Pool C contest earlier on Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
National pride was the only thing on the line on Sunday, because Venezuela lost any chance of advancing to the second round by losing their first two games to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
Winless Spain will have to go through the qualifying rounds to try to return to this tournament the next time around in 2017.
Spain scored two runs in the fifth on a single by Salomon Manriquez to make it 6-5.
However, Venezuela tacked on five more runs — two in the sixth and then three in the eighth, as Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval blasted back-to-back homers in front of a crowd of 13,290 at Bithorn Stadium.
As opposed to the round-robin format in the first round, the next round will be double-elimination, meaning the teams to win two games each advance, while the teams who lose twice are out.
In Tokyo last night, the Netherlands edged Cuba 7-6.
The WBC semi-finals are on Sunday and Monday next week at San Francisco’s AT&T Park. The final game is also in San Francisco, on Tuesday next week.