Published December 24, 2016
They bachata’d their way to an undefeated tournament and they got their World Baseball Classic crown, at last.
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 with a 3-0 win against Puerto Rico for the championship Tuesday night.
Cheers of "Dominicana! Dominicana!" rang out through the rain at San Francisco's AT&T Park all the way to the lively streets of Santo Domingo.
"Tomorrow will be a national holiday," said Moises Alou, the proud Dominican general manager. "It was a tremendous win."
Robinson Cano earned MVP honors, Erick Aybar added an RBI double to back winner Samuel Deduno, and the demonstrative Dominican righty threw his arms into the air in delight after watching a run-saving defensive gem by center fielder Alejandro De Aza in a tough fifth.
The Dominican fans didn't let the Bay Area's wet weather keep them from dancing in the stands, waving flags and tooting horns. Flags became makeshift ponchos.
Dominican Republic President Danilo Medina understood the magnitude of this victory, and made sure to call right away to offer his congratulations.
"We appreciate that from the president," Jose Reyes said. "This win is all about the Dominican Republic. They were hungry waiting for this moment, and we did it."
The Dominicans (8-0) won it in the city where countrymen Felipe, Jesus and the late Matty Alou made history in 1963 when they appeared in the same Giants outfield for several games. Moises Alou is the son of former San Francisco skipper, Felipe.
No matter their team, Caribbeans had 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 in all-Caribbean final.
This game gave new meaning to the idea of a Caribbean championship.
Deduno followed up a fine outing in a win against the Americans last Thursday with another strong performance that will send him back to the Minnesota Twins with some nice momentum.
Deduno struck out five in five scoreless innings, allowing two hits and walking three to finish with a 0.69 ERA for the tournament. And Rodney struck out two and finished for his seventh save as the bullpen closed out this special run with 25 2-3 scoreless innings. The relievers didn't allow a run after the fourth inning of their first-round victory against Puerto Rico on March 10 in San Juan.
In the top of the fifth, the grounds crew scurried out to rake the mound after it became slippery in the rain and Deduno walked Alex Rios on five pitches to lead off the inning.
After Carlos Rivera flied out, De Aza ran down Andy Gonzalez's long fly to the gap in left-center and made a reaching snag at the warning track with his back to the infield.
Deduno then walked Jesus Feliciano. Tony Pena paid the pitcher a mound visit but stuck with him, and Deduno struck out Angel Pagan swinging after falling behind 2-0. Deduno pumped his fists again as he charged off the mound and was surrounded by celebratory teammates.
In the bottom half, De Aza did it with his bat. He snapped an 0-for-12 stretch when he laid down a perfect bunt single toward third.
The Dominicans became the first unbeaten WBC champion, beating Team Puerto Rico for the third time in this Classic.
And now they earn the distinction of world champion, too — the first time in WBC history.
Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig was among those to attend the game — available on television to 440 million households worldwide in 200 countries and territories, and in 15 languages — that drew 35,703 fans on a cool, drizzly March night at AT&T Park.
MLB executive Tim Brosnan called the WBC an "unqualified, over-the-top success."
He doesn't have to tell the Dominicans.
''This will always be with us in our hearts," Pena said.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.