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WBC Wrap: Venezuela Advances, Barely

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The star-laden Team Venezuela barely got past Mexico and Italy.

World Baseball Classic - Pool D - Game 7 - Venezuela v Italy Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

Catching up on Sunday and Monday’s World Baseball Classic Action:

Pool D:

Venezuela 4, Italy 3

Venezuela scored three times in the top of the ninth and Francisco Rodriguez recorded the save as Venezuela advanced to the second round with a win in the tiebreaker game against Italy.

Italy got off to an early lead with an RBI single by Daniel Descalso in the bottom of the first. Meanwhile, former Cubs minor leaguer A.J. Morris held the star-studded Venezuelan lineup in check. Morris did not allow a hit or a run over five innings. He walked one and struck out five.

Venezuela got their first hit and first run off of Cardinals minor league reliever Trey Nielsen in the sixth inning.

Iowa Cubs outfielder John Andreoli gave Italy a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning with his third home run of the tournament.

The game stayed that way until Miguel Cabrera led off the top of the ninth with a home run that tied the game. After Victor Martinez walked, Rougned Odor hit what appeared to be a two-run home run. Odor admired his home run and didn’t run, so he ended up with an RBI single after replay revealed the ball hit the top of the outfield wall. (Pinch-runner Yangervis Solarte was running all the way and easily scored from first.) After a Carlos Gonzalez single, Venezuela got a needed insurance run when Odor scored on a suicide squeeze by Alcides Escobar.

Rodriguez was greeted with a solo home run by former Mariners third baseman Alex Liddi in the bottom of the ninth. But he retired the next three batters to get the save and Venezuela advanced to the next round.

Mexico 11, Venezuela 9

Mexico beat Venezuela on Sunday but was eliminated from the tiebreaker game because of an obscure tiebreaker rule by 0.01 of a run.

Mexico jumped out to an early lead thanks to a five-run second inning off of Venezuelan starter Yusmeiro Petit. Right fielder Esteban Quiroz hit a three-run home run in the second off of Petit. Mexico extended their lead to 8-1 with a three-run home run by third baseman Brandon Laird off of Wil Ledezma in the fifth.

Venezuela made it close, but were never able to tie the game up. DH Victor Martinez hit a three-run home run off of Sergio Romo in the bottom of the seventh inning. Roberto Osuna got the save for Mexico.

You can read about the whole tiebreaker fiasco here. I will say that it appears that Venezuelan manager Omar Vizquel was very aware of the actual rule and knew that Venezuela had done enough to advance.

Puerto Rico 9, Italy 3

Cubs minor leaguer John Andreoli gave Team Italy a lead in the top of the first with a two-run home run, but the rest of the game was all Puerto Rico as they easily won Group D with a 3-0 record.

Drew Butera hit a solo home run in the second inning for Italy’s other run. Carlos Correa hit a three-run home run for Puerto Rico in the fourth inning.

Javier Baez was 2 for 5 with an RBI.

Pool C:

Dominican Republic 10, Colombia 3 11 innings

In one of the most thrilling games of the WBC so far, Colombia came within a bottom-of-the-ninth play at the plate of advancing to the second round and forcing the Dominican Republic and the United States into a one-game tiebreaker game. Instead, the Dominican Republic scored seven runs in the top of the 11th to extend their winning streak and win Pool C.

The DR broke a 1-1 tie in the third inning when Manny Machado doubled home Jonathan Villar and then Machado scored on an error by Colombian shortstop Donovan Solano. But Colombia crawled back into the game with strong relief pitching and a Mauricio Ramos RBI double in the sixth inning and a Jorge Alfaro solo home run in the eighth.

The big play came in the bottom of the ninth after Jhonatan Solano singled to open up the inning and was pinch-run for by Oscar Mercado. Dominican reliever Hansel Robles then hit Tito Polo to put runners on first and second and no outs. After a forceout put runners on the corners with one out, Reynaldo Rodriguez hit a line drive to left field, which was caught by Jose Bautista. Mercado decided to challenge Bautista’s arm and was thrown out at the plate in a close play.

The 11th inning started with the international rule of runners on first and second base and the Dominican Republic turned it into a seven-run rally, including a bases-loaded three-run double by Jean Segura. Jeurys Familia then retired Colombia in order as the Dominican Republic clinched first place in the group and continued their WBC winning streak, which now stands at 11 games.

United States 8, Canada 0

The United States had little problem dispatching of Canada to claim second place in Pool C.

The US jumped on Canadian starter Ryan Dempster for three runs in the first inning and never looked back. Nolan Arenado and Buster Posey homered for the US in this game.

Second Round Games

Japan 8, Netherlands 6 11 innings

Japan was tested for the first time this tournament as the Netherlands forced extra innings before the host country prevailed in 11 innings.

Japan led a tight game 6-5 after catcher Seiji Kobayashi hit an RBI single in the fifth inning. But with two out in the bottom of the ninth and runners on the corners, second baseman Jonathan Schoop singled to center field on a ball that Japan second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi got a glove on but couldn’t stop.

After a bunt in the top of the 11th inning that put runners on second and third and one out for Japan, first baseman Sho Nakata singled home both runners to provide the margin of victory.

Nakato had earlier hit a three-run home run, giving him 5 RBI on the game. For the Netherlands, Schoop hit a solo home run in the second and right fielder Wladimir Balentien hit a two-run shot off the foul pole. Balentien holds the single-season home run record in Japan’s NPB.

Netherlands 12, Israel 2, 8 innings

Israel’s surprising four-game winning streak in the WBC came to an end as the Netherlands clobbered them early Monday morning, US time.

Didi Gregorius had a home run, a double and five RBI. Jair Jurrjens held Israel to just one run over six innings.

Both Israel and the Netherlands are 1-1 in the group and both still can advance. The Netherlands has Cuba yet to play and Israel must still play Japan.