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Big League Stew

World Baseball Classic roundup: Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Italy advance, favorite Venezuela eliminated

Mark Townsend
Big League Stew

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(AP)

Puerto Rico 6, Venezuela 3: A real stunner down in San Juan as one of the tournament’s favorites, Venezuela, was eliminated just two games in following losses to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

Venezuela actually got the jump on the scoreboard Saturday, plating two against Nelson Figueroa in the third. San Francisco Giants teammates Marco Scutaro and Pablo Sandoval inflicted the damage with an RBI single and double respectively. The advantage was short-lived as Puerto Rico answered with a two-spot of their own against an unraveling Carlos Zambrano in the next half inning, and then grabbed the lead in the fifth thanks to Angel Pagan’s two-out RBI single.

Puerto Rico would add three more runs in the eighth to really take command. Mike Aviles capped his big game with a sacrifce fly to give him three RBI. Two batters later, pinch-hitter Luis Figueroa put on the finishing touches when he smoked a Francisco Rodriguez pitch for a two-run double down the right field line.

The win also clinches a second round berth for Puerto Rico.

Canada 10, Mexico 3: Obviously the story here is the wild brawl that broke out during the ninth inning. But there's also some significance in that Mexico was eliminated from the tournament with the loss, which opens for the door for the United States or Canada to advance on Sunday. Justin Morneau and Michael Saunders were monsters in the win, combining to go 8-for-9 with four doubles, six RBI and four runs scored. Taylor Green of the Brewers added three hits and scored three times.

Cuba 14, Chinese Taipei 0 (7 innings): The mercy rule was in effect in Tokyo as Cuba dismantled and eliminated Chinese Taipei from WBC action. Frederich Cepeda, Yasmany Tomas, Jose Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne all homered in the lopsided victory. Danny Betancourt earned the victory on the hill by throwing six scoreless.

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Yadier Molina celebrates the Dominican Republic's victory with Fernando Cabrera. (AP)

Dominican Republic 6, Spain 3: Carlos Santana homered and Robinson Cano delivered three hits to help the Dominican Republic improve to 2-0. Nelson Cruz also chipped in a pair of hits and two RBI, while Samuel Deduno picked up the win with four scoreless innings.

Despite the loss and their elimination, it was a historic day for Spain as they scored their first runs in WBC play. Engel Beltre gets credit for the first RBI as his bunt single drove in Salomon Manriquez. They also mounted quite a threat in the ninth, pushing across two more runs and loading the bases with two outs. However, Fernando Rodney struck out 19-year-old Rafael Alvarez to close it out.

USA 6, Italy 2: Despite the loss, Italy clinches a second round berth thanks to Canada’s win earlier in the day. As we noted, that also gave Team USA some breathing room. A loss here would not have eliminated them, but it would have complicated the tiebreaker scenario. They don't have to worry about that now, and it was also important for them to get their offense on track heading into Sunday‘s win-or-go-home.

That‘s exactly what they did in a five-run fifth inning, with New York Mets all-star David Wright delivering a game-breaking grand slam off Matt Torra. The United States also got multi-hit games from Jimmy Rollins, Brandon Phillips and Ryan Braun. Ryan Vogelsong was solid in his start, allowing two runs over four innings, but the pitching star was definitely Ross Detwiler. The Washington Nationals left-hander held Italy scoreless in four innings of relief.

Sunday's Slate

• Second round action continues in Tokyo as the home team from Japan takes on the Netherlands (6:00 a.m. ET). The winner advances to the finals in Pool 1 on Tuesday. The loser will face Cuba in an elimination game on Monday.

• All that's left for Venezuela and Spain to play for is pride (12:30 p.m. ET). Thanks for coming.

• With Mexico eliminated on Saturday, it all comes to Team USA vs. Canada to determine who advances with Italy from Pool D (4:00 p.m. ET). The critical pitching matchup will feature Derek Holland vs. Jameson Taillon.

• Dominican Republic clashes with Puerto Rico to determine the winner of Pool C (7:30 p.m. ET). Both teams are 2-0 and officially heading to Miami.

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