World Baseball Classic: Mexico bounces back from defeating Puerto Rico, reaches semi-finals

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March 17, 2023;  Miami, Florida, USA;  Mexico third baseman Isaac Paredes (17) scores after he hits a home run during the third inning against Puerto Rico at Londepot Park.  Mandatory credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Isaac Paredes was Mexico’s hero in the World Baseball Classic on Friday. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

The nightmarish start didn’t deter Mexico, and it now advances to the World Baseball Classic semifinals for the first time after a 5-4 win over Puerto Rico on Friday.

The game began with four runs for Puerto Rico in the top of the first inning, including back-to-back home runs by Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario. The Puerto Rican, who reached the game in excruciating fashion, was home to top Mexico pitcher Julio Urías, the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander who won the National League ERA title last season.

Mexico buckled down from there. Urias, Javier Assad, Jojo Romero, Jake Sanchez and Giovanni Gallegos didn’t allow a run after the first inning, with Sanchez getting some help on an extra-base hit in the eighth inning from WBC breakout star Randy Arrozarena.

In case you were wondering how much these players care about the WBC, Arjorena told Ken Rosenthal of Fox That puts that catch above any home run he’s hit in MLB, including the three he hit in the 2020 World Series:

He said, “It was better than any home run I’ve ever hit in the big leagues.” That catch was the best.

The offense soared in this quarterfinal, with Mexican third baseman Isaac Paredes, who plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, putting his country on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. Alex Verdugo provided Mexico’s second run with a bases-loaded single in the fifth inning, and then suffered the real loss in the seventh.

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Paredes, who reached base four times, singled with the bases loaded and two outs to tie the game. Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Luis Urias gave Mexico the lead with a single:

Mexico, who advanced to the quarter-finals by finishing first in Pool C, will now take on powerhouse Japan on Monday in Miami on Fox Sports 1. With a win in that game, he will face either the US, Venezuela or Cuba in the 2023 WBC. Last.