Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico tangle in all Latin WBC finale
(Sports Network) - The Dominican Republic entered the World Baseball Classic with something to prove. It has done that and a whole lot more.
On Tuesday, the Dominican Republic will try to cap its amazing run with a championship against Puerto Rico in the first-ever all Latin Classic title game at AT&T Park.
"There's always been a rivalry between the Dominican and Puerto Rico in everything," D.R. general manager Moises Alou said. "In sports and a lot of other things. We're close to each other. I know this game is going to mean a lot to both countries."
These clubs have met twice already at this tournament with the Dominican Republic walking away with victories in both contests. In fact the Dominican Republic has won every game it has played at this event and improved to 7-0 on Monday with a 4-1 semifinal win over the Netherlands.
Of course, it was the upstart Netherlands which beat the Dominican Republic twice to eliminate it in the first round of the 2009 WBC.
That would not be the case on Monday, however, as Edinson Volquez led a terrific effort on the mound that limited the Dutch to just four hits. Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion and Moises Sierra all drove in a run in the victory.
"I feel really proud of them," Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said. "Because they were here today, they went out there and they gave everything for our country. If you ask me if this is the ideal group, I would say yes. I would say this is the ideal group. Because they're the ones who are here today."
Should the Dominican Republic win again, it'll mark the first time in World Baseball Classic history that team has run the table. The seven straight wins are already a tournament record.
Samuel Deduno will get the call for Pena's club on Tuesday. He is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA at this event.
Puerto Rico, meanwhile, is hoping the third time will be the charm, as it has lost in each of the last two rounds to the Dominican Republic. However, manager Edwin Rodriguez's club advanced to the championship game with a surprising, 3-1, win over two-time defending champion Japan.
"We already played Dominican Republic twice and we have been watching those hitters for years, individually and for many years in the big leagues," Rodriguez said Monday. "So we have a pretty good idea how to pitch them and we already know who they have in the bullpen."
Heading to the hill for Puerto Rico on Tuesday will be righty Giancarlo Alvarado, who is 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA in this tournament. Alvarado spent 14 seasons in the minor leagues, but never made it to a big league club.
"Honestly, I've been waiting for this for many years," said Alvarado. "This is an opportunity to open up the series and to close it off for Puerto Rico. I'm really grateful. I'm just going to give 100 percent for my country."
These two teams are certainly no stranger to one another, having battled for bragging rights in what seems like forever at the Caribbean World Series.
"Whoever wins the Baseball Classic it's really going to belong to the Caribbean," Pena said. "It could be Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, but it will belong to the Caribbean. And Puerto Rico has had a great Classic just like us. And that's been one of our goals -- to respect our opponents and prepare mentally and physically to play a good ballgame.
"Now tomorrow, the Classic will be decided. We'll see who wins."
03/19 10:53:05 ET