Mexico downs Puerto Rico to attain semifinals of Globe Baseball Classic

Alden GonzalezESPN Employees Writer10:31 PM ET4 Minute Study

Mexico celebrates soon after final K to remove 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 into its initially Globe Baseball Classic semifinal, and remove a star-studded Puerto Rico group, a different huge play required to be created.

Randy Arozarena, of course, delivered it.

Clinging to a 1-run lead in the eighth inning of Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup, Arozarena raced close to the left-center-field fence and created an improbable leaping catch up against it, erasing what would have been a game-tying further-base hit and assisting Mexico, his adopted household nation, hold on to a five-four victory in front of a sellout crowd at LoanDepot Park.

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

“2023, Globe Baseball Classic, eighth inning, that catch,” he mentioned 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 enjoy with his new household. 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 even though driving in nine runs and scoring six other people as Mexico won 3 of its 4 games. He then created the largest play in arguably the largest game in Mexican baseball history, sending Mexico into a semifinal matchup against powerhouse Japan on Monday.

“I really feel extraordinary,” Arozarena mentioned. “I’ve had some extraordinary 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 initially inning against Mexican ace Julio Urias, receiving back-to-back household 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 even though down to its final seven outs.

Alexis Diaz entered to his brother’s popular 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 initially lead of the game.

Edwin Diaz, who tore the patellar tendon in his proper knee throughout Puerto Rico’s on-field celebration following its win against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday evening, reached out to Alexis soon after the game to inform him he went via equivalent scenarios in 2019. He told him to block all the outdoors noise and to hold believing in himself.

“It is been definitely painful for me,” Alexis Diaz, seemingly on the verge of tears, mentioned of not getting his brother with him. “I wanted each of us to be collectively in the Classic. Not getting him right here has been definitely challenging for me. But I am a warrior and I went out there. I could not achieve what I wanted, but I am going to hold going forward this season.”

Puerto Rico had a likelihood to avenge Diaz and tie the game the following inning, with a runner on initially 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 throughout this tournament, would not have it. Soon 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, a different signature pose from the Cuban-born outfielder who fell in enjoy with Mexico.

Mentioned Mexican manager Benji Gil: “He’s a kid who’s extremely focused on undertaking anything inside his energy to assistance this household of Mexican warriors get a likelihood to play for a planet championship.”

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