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WBC Roundup: Do or die for Team USA

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Baseball fans stand over the United States dugout

It didn't matter though as Josh Harrison struck out to end the game.

Puerto Rico will play the Netherlands in the first semifinal game Monday at Dodger Stadium, and its victory over the USA rendered the final game of pool play Saturday afternoon meaningless because of the way the other games have played out.

The road to the World Baseball Classic championship is painfully clear for the United States.

That question will be answered Saturday.

And that was the story of the game for the Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena, the current first-base coach for the Yankees and a former big league manager, also leads a group of All-Stars and says it's his job to make sure they get plenty of playing time and return to their Major League teams on track to start the regular season. "After every game we play, the confidence keeps improving".

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 nearly out of a spectator's hand. They overcame a 5-0 deficit to beat the U.S. 7-5 in first-round play last week. "You've always got a shot when you've got lineups like both sides have, and a pitching staff like both sides have". This game didn't mean much for either team as Puerto Rico had already secured a spot in the semifinals while Venezuela was eliminated Thursday night.

Puerto Rico's 4-0 lead proved insurmountable against Lugo of the New York Mets and their bullpen.

Puerto Rico and the USA have developed a nice little rivalry, having split two games in each of the last two WBCs.

Puerto Rico's previous best finish at the World Baseball Classic was as the runner-up in 2013. The way this team is playing right now, opposing teams have to be almost flawless to have a shot. "I've always been called Puerto Rican". When he announced on Twitter in December that he would pitch for Team USA, Stroman included the mea culpa, "sorry momma".

U.S. didn't go away.

Arenado doubled and Eric Hosmer singled to make it 4-1 in the US second off Seth Lugo (2-0). Posey's second homer of the tourney went an estimated 398 feet to left-center.

Lugo has opened eyes in this tournament, giving up just six hits and three runs, yielding a 2.45 ERA. He walked one batter and struck out two.

The 28-year-old left-hander struck out seven over four shutout innings Sunday to get the US out of the Miami pool ahead of Drew Smyly fanning eight in 4 2/3 strong innings in Tuesday's comeback win over Venezuela. Three of the four hits he allowed went for extra bases. Andrew Miller struck out two after replacing Mychal Givens in the sixth.

Puerto Rico regained a cushion in the sixth on the error by Arenado, who short-hopped a throw to first after fielding a grounder by Angel Pagan that took a high bounce.

In the afternoon curtain-raiser, Puerto Rico piled up 17 hits in thumping Venezuela 13-2 to remain unbeaten in the event. And they hit very well.

In this context, the Boricuas' win over the U.S. team provides a small, prideful moment for an island in need of such reliefs.

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