The Dominican Republic made quick work of the opposition in the World Baseball Classic. The Dominicans won eight straight games, including a 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico, to claim their first WBC title in San Francisco's AT&T Park on Tuesday evening.
This one started out the same way that most WBC games did—with runs scored in the first inning. Following another trend, the starting pitching settled down from then on.
Well, for the most part.
After allowing a leadoff hit to Puerto Rico's Angel Pagan, D.R. pitcher Samuel Deduno retired the next three batters and got out of the first inning unscathed.
Puerto Rican pitcher Giancarlo Alvarado wasn't quite as lucky.
Jose Reyes took a 1-1 pitch to deep right for a no-out double. One batter later, Erick Aybar sacrificed to move Reyes to third base. Alvarado then intentionally walked the red-hot Robinson Cano, which proved to be a disastrous decision as Edwin Encarnacion blasted a 1-0 pitch for a two-run double.
That's all the run support that Deduno would need.
The Puerto Ricans were stifled with Deduno on the mound, as he held them scoreless for five innings. Not only could they not score, but they tallied just two hits.
Fortunately for Puerto Rico, Alvarado closed out strong and kept the D.R. scoreless over the next three innings.
In the bottom of the fifth, Hiram Burgess came on to replace Alvarado. After Burgess recorded a quick strikeout, Alejandro De Aza caught the opposition sleeping with a bunt single.
Two batters later, Aybar struck with a double to push the lead to 3-0.
That lead would remain intact until the final out, as the Deduno and four relievers would go on to record a collective shutout.
The team's offense garners most of the headlines, but the D.R. won the WBC by virtue of its pitching.
Player of the Game: Samuel Deduno, Dominican Republic: A
Samuel Deduno stepped out onto the mound with a chance to achieve legendary status with a win in the WBC final. You couldn't have asked him to pitch a better game.
Deduno held Puerto Rico's powerful lineup scoreless through five innings, dropping his WBC ERA to 0.69. He struck out five batters while surrendering just two hits and walking three.
Giancarlo Alvarado, Puerto Rico: F
Giancarlo Alvarado struggled out of the gate. He allowed Jose Reyes to rocket a leadoff double, intentionally walked Robinson Cano and watched Edwin Encarnacion blast a two-run double to cap off a disheartening first-inning rally.
After closing out that frame, that was that. Alvarado was pulled.
Erick Aybar, Dominican Republic: A
Erick Aybar was absolutely sensational for the Dominican Republic. From veteran plays to clutch hits, the Los Angeles Angel was huge.
It all started with a sacrifice in the first inning to move Jose Reyes to third base.
After that at-bat, Aybar was virtually perfect. He reached base during two of his following three at-bats, including an RBI double during the fifth inning.
A marvelous outing by this D.R. veteran.