Even before this third World Baseball Classic began last week many of the so called experts and baseball analyst were quoted as saying that the Puerto Rican team was a weak team, had few stars, no pitching and power hitters.
As a result they predicted that the team would not be one of the two teams to move on from the first round held in San Juan. I wonder what they are saying now after Puerto Rico beat the USA by a score, 4 -3?
Puerto Rico surprised their own critics by beating a strong Venezuelan team and sending them home in round one for their second win in the single round elimination to move on to the second round in Miami, Florida.
In Miami, Puerto Rico was losing to Italy in their first game and again surprised everyone with a come from behind win in the late innings. “Luck” I heard some say. However, I don’t believe in luck. I believe that luck is “being prepared to take advantage of particular situation.”
That is precisely what Puerto Rico has done throughout this tournament. They took advantage of a bad situation and capitalized with a good defense and decent pitching.
They might not be the best team on paper, but they played better than the teams they beat to get to the semi-finals. Though they lost to the powerful Dominican Republic team on Wednesday, they still had a chance as they were ready to play the loser of the USA – Dominican Republic game on Thursday, thus the match up today against the USA.
Tonight once again Puerto Rico was the underdog. On paper the USA team was the obvious favorite. Every player was a top major league star.
However, the Puerto Rican team with their few major league star players: Alex Rios, Angel Pagan, Yadier Molina and Carlos Beltran were enough as they mixed with many minor league and non-roster players to beat the USA yesterday and earn a trip to San Francisco.
The Puerto Rican team did what no one expected, they beat the USA. This was payback for Puerto Rico who lost to the USA team in the bottom of the ninth in the last World Baseball Classic four years ago.
Puerto Rico came to win as they scored first and led 1 -0 until the sixth inning when they scored another three runs to lead 4-0 until the bottom of the seventh.
Journeyman pitcher, Nelson Figueroa held the USA team to just two hits for six innings. However, after he left it became a nail-biter. The USA scored a run in the seventh and another two in the eighth to make the team and what appeared majority Puerto Rican fans live through every pitch.
Veteran Puerto Rican pitcher, JC Romero pitched the last two innings of relief and secured Puerto Rico their first trip to the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic.