In one of the most memorable comebacks of the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Puerto Rico stunned Italy by a score of 4-3. They eliminated Italy by scoring three runs in the eighth inning and moving on to the second elimination game with a shot at the semifinals on the line.
As a result, the United States' game against the Dominican Republic on March 14 has become a must-win.
When Team USA meets the Dominican Republic, the winner will clinch a berth in the WBC semifinals. The loser, however, will be forced to play in an elimination game against Puerto Rico to advance.
For those who fail to understand the complexity of the WBC, allow the following bracket to explain.
If Team USA loses to the Dominican Republic, they must defeat Puerto Rico to make the semifinals. The same can be said for the D.R..
No matter which way you cut it, that's a game the Americans must avoid.
On March 12, Team USA defeated the Puerto Ricans by a score of 7-1. Not to be confused with a pure blowout, the Americans scored four of their seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
If that's not a call for revenge, what is?
This isn't to say that the United States is incapable of taking down Puerto Rico again, as they are. The fact of the matter is, receiving five scoreless innings from a starting pitcher in the WBC is a rarity.
If it comes down to going hit for hit against Puerto Rico, Team USA could be in trouble.
Furthermore, Puerto Rico now has momentum. They made an improbable comeback against Italy, despite sitting just six outs away from elimination.
For an underdog American squad, facing a superior team that has a full head of steam would be nothing short of disastrous.