Behind a thrilling victory over defending champions Dominican Republic on Saturday night, Team USA clinched the final spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic semifinals. The championship round of this year’s WBC reaches Dodger Stadium on Monday night, with a matchup between Netherlands and Puerto Rico.
Dodger Stadium previously hosted the tournament’s final three games in 2009. The U.S. will face Japan on Tuesday night, and the semifinals winners will then meet Wednesday in the 2017 WBC Final. First pitch for the remaining three contests is set for 6 p.m. PT and each contest will air live on MLB Network.
In addition to in Monday’s semifinal, the Los Angeles Dodgers will be represented in the WBC championship game by either Kenley Jansen (Netherlands) or Kiké Hernandez (Puerto Rico). While Hernandez has been with his countrymen since the outset of the WBC, Jansen made the decision to participate once Netherlands qualified to play at Dodger Stadium.
The power closer recently voiced his displeasure for the atmosphere at Spring Training and said he’s looking forward to a more intense environment. Jansen previously participated in the WBC in 2009 as a catcher.
Hernandez is 4-for-11 (.364) with a .417 on-base percentage, .545 slugging, one triple and two RBI in four WBC games. Puerto Rico advanced out of Pool D in Jalisco, Mexico, undefeated, with wins over Venezuela, Mexico and Italy.
Puerto Rico remained undefeated in Pool F at Petco Park by downing the Dominican Republic, United States and Venezuela. They’ve outscored their opponents 51-15 en route to a 6-0 record.
Puerto Rico draws a Netherlands team that went 4-1 in pool play. They advanced out of Pool A in Seoul with back-to-back wins over Korea and Chinese Taipei, guaranteeing themselves a spot in the second round. Netherlands’ lone loss in the opening round came in a meaningless game against Israel, who also was undefeated and had already advanced.
In Pool E played at the Tokyo Dome, Netherlands again won two of three games. They bounced back from an extra-innings loss to Japan with victories over Israel and Cuba. Both of their wins ended early via the mercy rule.
Like Puerto Rico, Japan reaches the semifinals at Dodger Stadium with an undefeated record. Japan defeated Cuba, Australia and China in Pool B; and Netherlands, Cuba and Israel in Pool E. They’ve outscored opponents 46-22 during the six-game winning streak.
Japan faced the Dodgers in an exhibition game at Camelback Ranch on Sunday.
The United States’ opening World Baseball Classic game was a nail-biter at Marlins Park, with the Americans edging Colombia in a 10th-inning, walk-off victory. As it turned out, Adam Jones’ game-winning base hit was the first of two defining moments.
The U.S. blew a 5-0 lead to the Dominican Republic in their second Pool C game, losing 7-5. However, USA ensured they’d advance to the second round by blanking Canada, 8-0. The thrills of a United States victory over Venezuela at Petco Park was met by a harsh reality when they were edged, 6-5, by Puerto Rico.
That put the U.S. on the brink of elimination against the Dominican Republic, who faced the same fate. Team USA crawled out of an early 2-0 deficit for a 6-3 win, rounding out the final four at Dodger Stadium.
Jones, a San Diego native, went just 2-for-13 with one home run and two RBI during the three games in front of his hometown crowd, but made a spectacular leaping catch to rob his Baltimore Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run that would’ve pulled the Dominican Republic within one run.
— WBC Baseball (@WBCBaseball) March 19, 2017
The United States’ berth in the World Baseball Classic semifinals is their second since the tournaments inception in 2006. Japan defeated Cuba to win the WBC crown in 2006, and beat South Korea in 10 innings at Dodger Stadium in 2009 to repeat as champions.
Puerto Rico is looking to avenge their loss to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 championship game at AT&T Park.