Mexico downs Puerto Rico to attain semifinals of Globe Baseball Classic

Alden GonzalezESPN Employees Writer2:31 AM BST4 Minute Study

Mexico celebrates right after final K to get rid of Puerto Rico

Giovanny Gallegos freezes Enrique Hernandez to send Mexico into the semifinals to face Japan.

MIAMI — They had rallied all the way back, erasing an early 4-run deficit, but if Mexico was to advance to its 1st Globe Baseball Classic semifinal and get rid of a star-studded Puerto Rico group, yet another huge play required to be produced.

Randy Arozarena, of course, delivered it.

Clinging to a one particular-run lead in the eighth inning of Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup, Arozarena raced close to the left-center-field fence and produced an improbable leaping catch up against it, erasing what would have been a game-tying additional-base hit and assisting Mexico, his adopted house nation, hold on to a five-four victory in front of a sellout crowd at LoanDepot Park.

Arozarena became a household name although dominating all through the 2020 postseason. When his Tampa Bay Rays reached the Globe Series, he offered 3 house runs. Arozarena was reminded of that late Friday evening and was asked to determine his ideal moment on a baseball field.

“2023, Globe Baseball Classic, eighth inning, that catch,” he stated in Spanish, drawing a laugh from a packed interview area.

Arozarena, 28, was born and raised in Cuba. He left the island in 2015 and arrived in Mexico, exactly where he played winter ball, had a daughter and fell in adore with his new house. He became a citizen of Mexico in April of final year solely for the reason that he wanted to represent the nation in this Globe Baseball Classic — and he has taken complete benefit.

Arozarena was the MVP of Pool C, going 7-for-14 although driving in nine runs and scoring six other individuals as Mexico won 3 of its 4 games. He then produced the most significant play in arguably the most significant game in Mexican baseball history, sending Mexico into a semifinal matchup against powerhouse Japan on Monday.

“I really feel unbelievable,” Arozarena stated. “I’ve had some unbelievable moments for my profession.”

Puerto Rico, playing in the wake of Edwin Diaz’s sobering knee injury, jumped out to a four- lead in the 1st inning against Mexican ace Julio Urias, finding back-to-back house runs from Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario. But Puerto Rico did not muster considerably offense the rest of the way, and Mexico lastly bridged the gap although down to its final seven outs.

Alexis Diaz entered to his brother’s well-known stroll-out song, “Narco,” but proceeded to load the bases with none out, providing up a double to Austin Barnes and back-to-back walks to Arozarena and Alex Verdugo. Jorge Lopez came out of the bullpen to record two rapid outs. But Isaac Paredes lined a two-run single to left field and Luis Urias dumped a base hit into shallow proper, providing Mexico its 1st lead of the game.

Edwin Diaz, who tore the patellar tendon in his proper knee in the course of Puerto Rico’s on-field celebration following its win against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday evening, reached out to Alexis right after the game to inform him he went by way of comparable circumstances in 2019. He told him to block all the outdoors noise and to preserve believing in himself.

“It really is been genuinely painful for me,” Alexis Diaz, seemingly on the verge of tears, stated of not possessing his brother with him. “I wanted each of us to be with each other in the Classic. Not possessing him right here has been genuinely hard for me. But I am a warrior and I went out there. I could not achieve what I wanted, but I am going to preserve going forward this season.”

Puerto Rico had a opportunity to avenge Diaz and tie the game the following inning, with a runner on 1st and Emmanuel Rivera uncorking a deep drive to left-center field. But Arozarena, who has awed fans with his play and dazzled teammates with his cowboy boots in the course of this tournament, would not have it. Right after he secured the catch and chucked the baseball back toward the infield, Arozarena settled onto the warning track and stretched his arms out wide, his palms exposed and his mouth agape, yet another signature pose from the Cuban-born outfielder who fell in adore with Mexico.

Mentioned Mexican manager Benji Gil: “He’s a kid who’s extremely focused on carrying out all the things inside his energy to assistance this loved ones of Mexican warriors get a opportunity to play for a globe championship.”

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