(Reuters) – The Dominican Republic were eliminated from the World Baseball Classic (WBC) after the star-laden team lost to the United States in southern California on Saturday night.
A 424-foot two-run homer by designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton to left field off veteran right-hander Ervin Santana in the fourth inning gave the U.S. the go-ahead runs in a 6-3 victory.
An Andrew McCutchen two-run double in the eighth made the score 6-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 43,002 at Petco Park in San Diego.
Both teams entered the game knowing the winner would advance to the semi-finals and the loser would go home.
The victory means the U.S. will play Japan in a semi-final at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Tuesday, with Puerto Rico and the Netherlands in the other last-four clash at the same venue on Monday.
The championship game will be on Wednesday.
The Dominicans, the 2013 WBC Classic champion, jumped out of the blocks quickly with two runs in the first inning, before the Americans tied it up in the third.
The powerful Dominican batting line-up could muster only one more run, a solo shot by second baseman Robinson Cano in the seventh.
It might have been a different outcome if Manny Machado’s 400-foot hit to center field in the previous at-bat had sailed a couple of inches longer.
But U.S. outfielder Adam Jones jumped high onto the fence and stretched his left hand into the crowd to make a brilliant catch, plucking the ball almost out of a spectator’s hand.
It was the play of the night, if not the tournament, prompting an impressed Machado to raise his helmet in respect to his Baltimore Orioles team mate.
“I’m still in awe of that catch,” Jones said in an on-field interview, before quickly praising his team’s pitchers for keeping the Dominican batters in check.
“Are you kidding me, what they did to that line-up. That line-up’s unbelievable.”
In the afternoon curtain-raiser, Puerto Rico piled up 17 hits in thumping Venezuela 13-2 to remain unbeaten in the event.
The game had no bearing on the semi-final match-ups, with Puerto Rico (6-0) already locked in to a final-four encounter with the Netherlands.
“The joy that we’re giving our country right now is unbelievable,” Puerto Rico’s Carlos Beltran said, according to MLB.com.
“We’re going through a tough time as a country, so the fact that we are uniting our people and everybody is rooting for us, we’re playing such good baseball. Hopefully we can finish this in a positive way.”
(Reporting by Andrew Both in Cary, North Carolina; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)