Puerto Rico outlasts Netherlands to advance to WBC final

The pure joy of baseball was on display, the exuberance of Wladimir Balentien flicking his bat aside and pounding his chest after a home run, the hops on Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa as they leaped skyward for mid-air high-fives, the triumphant bodily thrusts of Javier Baez as he threw out a runner at home plate, the giddiness of Enrique Hernandez celebrating a home run by charging out of the dugout draped in a Puerto Rican flag, even the bat flip of Kailan Sams after what he thought was ball four but was actually ball three.

The joy was on display in the stands too. Dodger Stadium was not even half full on Monday, but the historic ballpark shook to the rhythm of whistles, cowbells, tambourines, maracas and drums. The Dodgers ought to give out those instruments during the season, not ban them.

Not every game during the season can be so tense, of course, but this one was an absolute delight, another classic in a World Baseball Classic full of them. This was a festival for more than four hours, closing time forced by the international tiebreaker rule.

Eddie Rosario was the hero, delivering the bases-loaded sacrifice fly that gave Puerto Rico a 4-3 victory over the Netherlands in 11 incredibly compelling innings. The Puerto Rican team exploded from its dugout and basically swallowed up Rosario on the field.

Rosario sent the Puerto Ricans into their second consecutive WBC title game. The United States and Japan play in the other semifinal Tuesday, with the winner facing Puerto Rico for the WBC championship Wednesday.


Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin

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