Dominicans have something to prove at WBC
By Greg Heakes, AFP
March 20, 2013, 12:08 am TWN
SAN FRANCISCO--For the first time in the World Baseball Classic's short history there will be an all-Caribbean final.The Dominican Republic finally got the payback they were looking for on Monday by beating the Netherlands 4-1 on some stout pitching and a four-run fifth-inning rally. That set up a championship game between the Dominicans and Puerto Rico Tuesday night at AT&T Park.
"Whoever wins the Baseball Classic it is really going to be the Caribbean's," said Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena. "It will belong to the Caribbean. Tomorrow the Baseball Classic will be decided. We'll see who wins there. "
With more than 100 players playing in Major League Baseball, the Dominicans were the heavy favorites in the 2009 tournament but they couldn't get the job done as they were ousted in the first round by the Netherlands.
Redemption came in the form of their victory Monday in front of a crowd of 27,527 at AT&T Park against a Netherlands team that became the Cinderella story of the tournament by becoming the first European club to make it to the semifinals.
"This has been one of my greatest experiences," said Dominican left fielder Moises Sierra, who was a late addition to the starting lineup Monday. "To be able to represent my country is the best thing that has ever happened to me."
The Dominican Republic are undefeated in 2013 after failing to get out of the first round in 2009 thanks to two one-run losses to the Netherlands.
But there was no letdown this time as they rolled over their competition, improving to 7-0 in the tournament on Monday.
Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens, whose hails from the Caribbean island of Curacao but whose mother is from the Dominican Republic, says he sees a different Dominican team this time around.
"They played very well in this tournament. I think in 2009 they weren't as concentrated and we were able to defeat them," Meulens said. "They kind of took it for granted in 2009 but they came to play this year."
Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said both teams in the final know each other well.
"We already played the Dominican Republic twice and we have been watching those hitters for years individually and for many years in the big leagues," Rodriguez said.
"So we have a pretty good idea on how to pitch to them and we already know who they have in the bullpen.
"I think we feel very comfortable."