Puerto Rico edges Netherlands 4-3 in 11 to reach WBC final

Puerto Rico's Carlos Correa celebrates after scoring in winning run on a hit by Eddie Rosario in the 11th inning of a semifinal against the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Monday, March 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

LOS ANGELES (AP) Eddie Rosario’s sacrifice fly drove in Carlos Correa with the winning run in the 11th inning, giving Puerto Rico a 4-3 victory over the Netherlands on Monday night and a spot in the World Baseball Classic championship game.

Correa hit a two-run homer in the first inning, and T.J. Rivera’s solo shot in the second put Puerto Rico ahead 3-2.

Puerto Rico will play either two-time champion Japan or the United States on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. The Puerto Ricans also reached the final in 2013, losing to the Dominican Republic 3-0.

The blond Puerto Rican players, who dyed their hair in a show of unity that has caught on back home, jumped up and down in celebration on the field after a lively, emotional and sometimes-testy game that lasted 4 hours, 19 minutes.

In the stands, the predominantly red, white and blue-clad crowd pounded cow bells and tooted horns and whistles in celebration.

Kike Hernandez, who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Hiram Burgos raced around the field carrying Puerto Rican flags above their heads.

Curt Smith grounded into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play for the Netherlands in the 11th, which began with runners on first and second for both teams under tournament rules. It was one of three double plays turned by Puerto Rico.

Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina’s defense saved Puerto Rico from a potential grand slam in the first inning when Wladimir Balentien’s homer helped the Netherlands to a 2-0 lead, giving orange-clad fans a reason to cheer.

Jorge Lopez allowed a leadoff single to Andrelton Simmons and hit Xander Bogaerts with a pitch. Simmons wandered off the bag toward third and Molina threw to second, but Simmons couldn’t get back in time and got caught in a rundown.

Jurickson Profar singled to right, but was slow getting back to first while celebrating and was picked off by Molina, who took Rosario’s relay from the outfield. Balentien followed with his mammoth, two-out shot, and celebrated with a bat flip.

Balentien, who had three hits, has been the top slugger in the WBC with four homers and a .750 batting average. He last played in the major leagues in 2009 and has been playing for Yakult in Japan since 2011.

Edwin Diaz threw high and inside to Balentien in the 10th, causing Balentien to point at his head and shake his finger in a warning to Diaz. Molina stepped in front of Balentien, as if to dissuade him from approaching the mound. Balentien took a called third strike, one of three punchouts by Diaz in the inning.

Diaz got the victory, and 7-foot-1 Loek Van Mil took the loss.

The Dutch turned a double play in the second before Rivera homered off Rick Van Den Hurk.

The Netherlands tied it 3-all in the fifth on Shawn Zarraga’s RBI double to deep left-center. That scored Balentien after he doubled off the videoboard in left field with two outs. Jonathan Schoop, who had been intentionally walked, was thrown out at the plate on a strong relay by second baseman Javier Baez, a close play that was reviewed.

Baez turned a double play to end the eighth, fielding Smith’s grounder and tagging Yurendell Decaster as he ran to second before getting Smith at first. Puerto Rican fans burst into chants and waved flags.

Bogaerts grounded into a double play on a chopper up the middle to end the ninth.

Kenley Jansen retired the side in the bottom of the ninth, striking out two for the Netherlands, with the Dodgers closer entering to his usual music ”California Love” by 2Pac. He joined the team after the first two rounds of the WBC.

The Dutch were without shortstop Didi Gregorius, who left the team because of a bruised right shoulder. He hit .348, drove in eight runs and scored five in the tournament. His status for opening day with the New York Yankees is in doubt.

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