When the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands faced off on Monday night in the second WBC semifinal, the game pitted the tournament's best team in the Dominicans against the tournament's best story in the upstart Dutch. As it turned out, the undefeated Dominican buzzsaw was too much for the Cinderella Netherlands team. The DR rode another dominating pitching performance and some timely hitting to a 4-1 win and a berth in tonight's final game against Puerto Rico.
The Dominican's win wasn't a foregone conclusion, though. The Netherlands jumped out to a 1-0 lead against Edinson Volquez in the top of the first by drawing two walks to start the game, then moving Andrelton Simmons around station to station on groundouts. The Netherlands had a chance to add on with Andruw Jones at the plate and Jurickson Profar at third with two outs, but Moises Sierra made an incredible leaping catch into the stands down the left field foul line to retire Simmons and end the Netherlands threat.
Little did the Dutch team know at that point that they weren't going to score again. Volquez went into shutdown mode from that point forward and the Netherlands didn't even reach second base again until the sixth inning. The Dominican Republic, meanwhile, had trouble breaking onto the scoreboard against Diegomar Markwell in the early part of the game. Once the runs started crossing the plate, though, they came in a bunch for the Dominicans.
Markwell entered the fifth inning holding desperately onto the 1-0 lead, despite not recording a strikeout in his first four innings of work. That was the point that the wheels fell off. Carlos Santana and Sierra hit back-to-back doubles to tie the game at one, then Jose Reyes hit a two-out single to score Sierra and give the Dominican team their first lead. They weren't done. Miguel Tejada followed Reyes with another single that ended Markwell's night, then Tom Stuifbergen threw a wild pitch that scored Reyes. After an intentional walk to Robinson Cano, Edwin Encarnacion singled in Tejada to run the score to 4-1.
That was all the scoring the Dominican Republic had in them, but it was all they needed. Volquez came out of the game in the fifth inning and he was followed by Kelvim Herrera, Pedro Strop, and Fernando Rodney. That trio allowed just three base runners over the final four innings, with Rodney recording his sixth save of the tournament in the ninth.
With the win, the Dominican team will face Puerto Rico in tonight's final at 8 PM EDT. The two sides have already faced off twice in this tournament, with the Domincan Republic winning their first round game 2-0 and their second round game 4-2. It's worth noting, though, that both of those games were seeding games in which the two teams had already secured advancement. Tonight's game will have a lot more on the line. Giancarlo Alvarado will start for Puerto Rico and Samuel Deduno will go for the Dominican Republic.