(Reuters) – The defending champion Dominican Republic powered their way to a 9-2 win over Canada in the Pool C opener in Miami’s Marlins Park on Thursday.
The 2013 Classic winners cruised behind a stellar outing from pitcher Carlos Martinez and a 15-hit attack that included homers from Welington Castillo and Jose Bautista, who went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in.
Martinez, 25, limited Canada to just three hits and one run over four innings.
Former MLB All-Star Ryan Dempster took the loss for Canada in his first competitive outing since the 2013 World Series for the Boston Red Sox.
Pool D in Guadalajara began with a shocking finish as Italy scored four in the bottom of the ninth to upset hosts Mexico 10-9.
Mexican closer Roberto Osuna took the mound with a 9-5 lead but gave up doubles to the first three hitters. After an error and a walk, the bases were loaded and Osuna exited in favor of lefty Oliver Perez with the score 9-7.
Brandon Nimmo ripped a line drive to right that a diving Alex Verdugo had in his glove but dropped when he hit the ground to make it 9-8.
With the infield drawn in, John Andreoli followed with a sharp grounder brushed off Luis Urias’ glove and scored two runs to give Italy a stunning victory.
Earlier in Seoul, Israel won Pool A by beating the Netherlands 4-2 at the Gocheok Sky Dome to finish with a 3-0 record.
Israel, the last team to qualify, jumped to a 3-0 first-inning lead against a Dutch team that also entered the game with a 2-0 record.
Both teams advanced to the second round in Tokyo.
“I think that coming into the tournament, a lot of people saw us as huge underdogs, but we never saw it that way,” Israel right fielder Zach Borenstein said.
Australia (1-1) set up a do-or-die Pool B showdown against Cuba (1-1) in Tokyo for a berth in the second round by thrashing China 11-0.
Luke Hughes and James Beresford both homered and each drove in four runs as four pitchers combined for a shutout.
South Korea avoided going winless as hosts of Pool A by taking an 11-8 win in 10 innings over Taiwan, who finished 0-3.
Korea squandered an early six-run lead to a battling Taiwan team but made amends with a 10th inning rally capped by a pinch-hit two-run homer by Kim Tae-kyun off Chen Hung-Wen.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by …)