SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Samuel Deduno pleaded with Tony Pena to leave him in the game, the outing of his life, his country across his chest.
Pena stuck with the demonstrative Dominican Republic right-hander, with his island nation’s World Baseball Classic hopes hanging on that managerial move. Deduno made Pena change his mind – and he never changes his mind.
The pitcher did his part by striking out Angel Pagan and, four innings later, it was finally time for a party four years in the making.
The Dominicans have their World Baseball Classic crown, at last. Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina understood the magnitude of this victory and made sure to call right away to offer his congratulations after his countrymen beat Puerto Rico 3-0 on Tuesday night.
Cheers of “Dominicana! Dominicana!” rang out through the rain at AT&T Park all the way to the lively streets of Santo Domingo.
That embarrassing first-round exit at the hands of the Netherlands in 2009? Forget about it now.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double in the first inning that held up and the Dominicans capped a dominant, unbeaten run through the WBC as the first winner not from Japan in the tournament’s short history.
No matter their team, Caribbean natives had so much to cheer in the championship of a tournament missing the star-studded American team yet again. The U.S. failed to reach the final for the third time in as many WBCs.
And Puerto Rico eliminated two-time reigning Classic champion Japan with a 3-1 victory Sunday night to make it an all-Caribbean final.