Luis Urias on Friday hit the go-ahead single in a three-run seventh inning that fueled Mexico’s 5-4 comeback victory over Puerto Rico to advance to their first-ever World Baseball Classic (WBC) semi-final.
Mexico face Shohei Ohtani and Japan on Tuesday morning Taiwan time.
Puerto Rico failed to make it past the second round for the first time.
“What a game. I don’t have a cap with me, but if I did, I’d tip it to Puerto Rico,” Mexico manager Benji Gil said. “We fought until the end. Thank God we managed to come out with a victory against a great team.”
Isaac Paredes, who homered earlier, tied it at 4-4 with a single off losing pitcher Alexis Diaz that drove in Austin Barnes and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena.
Puerto Rico tried to rally in the ninth with singles from Christian Vazquez and Francisco Lindor, but reliever Giovanny Gallegos got out of the jam for the save.
Arozarena saved the potential tying run in the eighth when he made a leaping catch at the wall in left center.
“We know what kind of player Randy is. He’s a great player. He killed us,” Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina said. “We couldn’t score, but they played very well. We started very strong, but then the Mexican pitching made some adjustments and kept us in zeros.”
Puerto Rico were coming off an emotional quarter-final-clinching victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, when New York Mets star closer Edwin Diaz tore the patellar tendon in his right knee while celebrating the win.
The sellout crowd of 35,817 at loanDepot park in Miami on Friday cheered when Diaz’s jersey appeared on the Jumbotron.
Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario homered off Mexico starter Julio Urias in a four-run first inning.
Rosario hit his second home run of the tournament. Baez, in one of his best games of the event, had three hits, giving him seven for the tournament.
“We had a very difficult start to the game, but we know the kind of team we have and how united we are,” Paredes said. “There were many innings remaining and we responded at the zero hour.”
Urias allowed five hits and four runs and struck out four before he was lifted after the fourth inning at 60 pitches, which is 20 fewer than the WBC quarter-finals pitch limit.
JoJo Romero got the win.
Paredes made it 4-1 in the second when he homered against Marcus Stroman, which was one of Mexico’s five hits off Puerto Rico’s starter.
Stroman allowed three singles in the fifth, one of which drove in a run for Mexico to make it 4-2. He had two strikeouts in 4-1-3 innings.
Puerto Rico finished second in the past two WBCs. Earlier in this tournament, their pitchers turned in an all-time performance against Israel in pool play with an eight-innings perfect game.
Mexico won group C with a 3-1 record in pool play.
The US face Venezuela this morning Taiwan time in the other quarter-final.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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