SPORTSGUYSBLOG.COM - Team USA, who once faced elimination in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, has now reached the semifinals after a dramatic ninth inning comeback to beat Puerto Rico 6-5.
The U.S. looked strong out of the gate, hoisting a 3-1 lead through three after a Kevin Youkilis solo shot.
However, Puerto Rico would fire back in the next inning with a two-run blast off the bat of Carlos Delgado to tie the game at three.
Brian McCann tried to answer back for the U.S. with a deep drive, but McCann’s homer was robbed by Puerto Rico CF Carlos Beltran.
After a sixth inning single by Alex Rios to put Puerto Rico up 4-3, a bizarre play happened in the following inning.
With runners on first and second, Jimmy Rollins flied out to center, and the runners retreated to their bases. This seemed like a routine play until the ball entered the infield.
As United States OF Shane Victorino retreated back to second, he was struck in the leg by the ball, ricocheting the ball away from Puerto Rican SS Mike Aviles, allowing the speedy Victorino to advance to second.
What did the U.S. make of this luck? Kevin Youkilis subsequently grounded out to second.
With Puerto Rico up 4-3 in the top of the ninth, Ramon Vazquez grounded one up the middle, and it appeared that a diving Derek Jeter was going to make the stop and prevent Puerto Rico from tacking on another run.
Unfortunately for the U.S., the ball was in and out of Jeter’s possession, and Puerto Rico added what looked like the nail in the coffin for the U.S.
With the U.S. now trailing 5-3, they knew that they had to score at least two runs here, or they’d be heading home.
With one out and runners on the corners, Brian Roberts swiped second, setting two men up in scoring position for the U.S. After the steal, J.C Romero and Fernando Cabrera walked two consecutive batters, forcing in a run.
The stage was now set for the hero of the game, third baseman David Wright.
With one out and the bases loaded, Wright sliced a low 2-1 pitch to right field, scoring Brian Roberts and Jimmy Rollins to win the game.
Wright called the situation “what you dream about when you’re a kid.”
After two big wins against the Netherlands and Puerto Rico, the U.S. are advancing to the semifinals. They will square off against Venezuela today to determine the pool winner, but Team USA can relax because they are in the semifinals.