Dominican Republic, United States advance in Classic - Metro US

Dominican Republic, United States advance in Classic

(Reuters) – Undefeated Dominican Republic erupted for seven runs in the 11th inning as the defending champions beat Colombia 10-3 in the World Baseball Classic in Miami on Sunday.

Welington Castillo belted a bases-loaded, two-run single to break a 3-3 tie and Jean Segura’s double added three more runs as Dominicans completed first round play 3-0.

They topped Pool C, while the United States also advanced to the final eight, thanks to an 8-0 shutout of Canada.

Colombia (1-2) and Canada (0-3) were eliminated.

Also on Sunday, undefeated Puerto Rico (3-0) beat Italy 9-3 to top Pool D, while Mexico edged Venezuela 11-9 in Jalisco, Mexico.

The result means Mexico (1-2) and Italy (1-2) will have a play-in game on Monday to join Puerto Rico in the final eight. Venezuela (1-2) are done and dusted.

Castillo, the Dominican Republic catcher, also made a key defensive stop with a tag at the plate to complete a ninth-inning double play that forced extra innings against Colombia.

A novel tournament rule designed to cut down on long extra inning games helped set the stage for the outcome.

Runners were placed on first and second base to start the 11th under the rule and after a sacrifice bunt by Mel Rojas Jr, Colombia intentionally walked Gregory Polanco to load the bases.

Castillo then singled to left to drive in Jose Bautista and Carlos Santana.

Colombia could have won the game in the ninth but Oscar Mercado was called out at the plate on a tag by Castillo.

Colombia protested the call to no avail as Reynaldo Rodriguez and outfielder Tito Polo were ejected.

Meanwhile, U.S. starting pitcher Danny Duffy notched seven strikeouts in four innings, giving up two hits, to get the win as the Americans blanked Canada.

Third baseman Nolan Arenado hit a three-run home run as the U.S. raced to a 7-0 lead after two innings.

“I’ve been swinging the bat well. It was nice to get one out of there,” Arenado told MLB Network.

“We are really enjoying this time together and we want to keep going.”

Much has been made of the decision of many top U.S. pitchers to skip the tournament, but Arenado praised the pitchers who have turned up, including Duffy, Chris Archer and Marcus Stroman.

“They have been unbelievable,” he said. “They are setting the tone. We are really enjoying this time together and we want to keep going.”

Japan and surprising Israel also are undefeated in the tournament.

Japan moved to 4-0 with an 8-6 second-round victory over the Netherlands in 11 innings in Tokyo. Sho Nakata delivered the winner, a two-run single to left field.

Israel won their fourth straight with an unexpected 4-1 victory over Cuba, also in Tokyo.

The 38-year-old Jason Marquis showed he was one still to be reckoned with as the right-hander allowed just one run and four hits in 5 2/3 innings for Israel.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry and Andrew Both in Raleigh, North Carolina, editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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