WBC semifinal: Dominican Republic powers past Netherlands into final, remains undefeated

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

Score and situation: The Dominican Republic defeated the Netherlands 4-1 in Monday night's World Baseball Classic semifinal in San Francisco. The victory earned the Dominicans a berth in their first-ever World Baseball Classic final and secured the first all-Caribbean final in the event's history — the D.R. will face Puerto Rico in Tuesday's championship.

Leading lads: Left fielder Moises Sierra might not be an All-Star like many of his Dominican teammates, but the 24-year-old member of the Toronto Blue Jays stood out at AT&T Park as his team moved to a perfect 7-0. Sierra made a highlight-reel catch down the left field wall to end a Netherlands' threat in the first inning, then drove in his team's first run as he doubled Carlos Santana home in the four-run fifth inning. Dominican starter Edinson Volquez did not have his best stuff but somehow limited the Dutch to just one run with five strikeouts over five innings of work.

[Also: Fernando Rodney's awkward World Baseball Classic introduction]

Head hangers: Netherlands starter Diegomar Maxwell blanked the Dominicans for his first four innings, but couldn't keep it up for the fifth as he surrendered back-to-back doubles to Santana and Sierra. Maxwell was pulled after giving up a RBI single to Jose Reyes, but his reliever Tom Stuifbergen didn't do any better. The righthander led off with a wild pitch that scored Reyes from third and then allowed a RBI single to Edwin Encarnacion for the fourth run of the inning.

Key play: Reyes' line drive up the middle in the fourth gave the Dominican Republic a two-run lead when Sierra came home and effectively broke the game open.

Interesting stat: Teams from the Dominican Republic (19) and Puerto Rico (14) have accounted for 33 Caribbean Series titles, the most of any two teams.

What they'll be talking about: The Dominicans waited four long years to avenge their 2009 elimination at the hands of the Dutch, but now it's onto bigger and better things. One of baseball's leading countries has a chance to win its first WBC title while also becoming the first undefeated champion in the event's history. They'll face a Puerto Rican team that they've already beaten twice in the 2013 WBC — a 4-2 win in San Juan on March 10 and a 2-0 victory in Miami on March 16.

What's next: First pitch of the championship game is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday night and will be televised on MLB Network. Samuel Deduno is expected to start for the Dominican Republic while Giancarlo Alvarado is expected to get the nod for Puerto Rico.

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