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When the Dominican Republic took on Team USA, the game was about much more than just bragging rights or another inter-country win. Instead, it was a matter of advancement.
The winner would move on to the championship round to play Netherlands. The loser would face Puerto Rico in a game to determine which team will advance.
Everything was on the line.
Early on, it had the makings of a blowout. Samuel Deduno loaded the bases and walked Eric Hosmer, thus spotting the United States an early run.
Although Deduno would get out alive, the damage was done. Or was it?
One half-inning later, Hanley Ramirez hit an awe-inspiring 451-foot home run off of R.A. Dickey. Just like that, the score was tied at 1-1 entering the bottom half of the second inning.
And then the offense stopped.
Neither pitcher would allow a run from that point on. Deduno struck out seven batters in 4.0 innings, while Dickey went 5.0 and sent down four players via Ks.
After a longstanding pitcher's duel, the game entered the ninth inning still at 1-1. With American closer Craig Kimbrel on the mound, it seemed as if it would stay that way.
After Nelson Cruz blasted his second double of the evening, however, the outcome was in question. Fortunately, Kimbrel got Carlos Santana to ground out for the first out of the inning.
One batter later, pinch hitter Erick Aybar smacked a ball into right field, allowing Cruz to cross the plate for a 2-1 lead.
Aybar wasn't done, as he proceeded to steal second base moments later. After that, Jose Reyes took it to his former divisional foe by driving a Kimbrel pitch into center.
Aybar would score and make it a 3-1 lead for the Dominican Republic.
Entering the bottom of the ninth, we hit the bottom third of the United States' batting lineup. With Fernando Rodney on the mound, Adam Jones began the final stretch with a fly out to left.
Ben Zobrist didn't fare much better, striking out on seven pitches.
The final batter of the evening was pinch hitter Shane Victorino. After falling behind in the count at 1-2, Victorino popped up to third base.
The Dominican Republic advances, and the U.S. will now play Puerto Rico with a berth in the championship round on the line.