Thanks to six innings from southpaw Wandy Rodriguez and a home run from Carlos Santana, the Dominicans were able to pull off a 2-0 victory against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic and earn a trip to San Francisco.
The game was destined to be a close one from the get-go. A pitchers' duel was in full swing until the bottom of the fifth inning, when Santana cranked a homer to right field off of Puerto Rico's Orlando Roman.
The Dominican Republic got some insurance in the bottom of the eighth inning as well, when catcher Francisco Peña's single scored Erick Aybar from third base.
The closest Puerto Rico got to scoring a run was when infielder Irving Falu stole second and advanced to third on a Santana throwing error in the third inning. Falu, who replaced an injured Carlos Rivera, was thrown out at home by Aybar when Jesus Feliciano grounded into a fielder's choice.
The Puerto Ricans almost had a rally going when Mike Aviles hit a two-out double off of Fernando Rodney in the ninth, but the big right-hander got Eddie Rosario to ground out to second to seal the deal.
The Dominican Republic will now head to San Francisco and play the Netherlands for a spot in the WBC Finals, while Puerto Rico will play defending champion Japan. While the Dominican Republic is undefeated and the easy favorite, the Dutch are not to be counted out.
Team Netherlands defeated a heavily favored Cuban squad not once, but twice this tournament, on March 8 and March 11. It may not be done slaying giants yet, so the Dominican Republic had better be ready to face the same team that beat it twice and bounced it from the 2009 WBC.
This means working around Jonathan Schoop and Andrelton Simmons, who have been the two best hitters for the Netherlands in the WBC.
Defeating Puerto Rico is something to celebrate, but the Dominican Republic's WBC is really just beginning now that the semifinals are about to take place.