The World Baseball Classic’s semifinal round got under way on Monday night, and it took extra innings to determine the winner. Ultimately, Puerto Rico came out on a top in an absolute thriller of a game against the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Mets infielder T.J. Rivera got the start for Puerto Rico at first base and would actually come through in a big way in the bottom of the second with the score tied at two.
His solo shot would be difference for most of the game, but the Netherlands did not want to give up. They’d eventually tie it up again late and send the contest into the dreaded extra innings.
Once the 11th inning arrived, the World Baseball Classic’s rules put runners on 1st and 2nd to start each frame in an attempt to prevent the game from going too long. After failing to score in the top half of the inning, the Netherlands gave up the winning run on a sacrifice fly from Eddie Rosario to give Puerto Rico the walk-off win.
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Lugo has been absolutely stellar for Puerto Rico during the WBC so it’s no surprise he’s getting the nod.
He pitched a gem of an outing against Venezuela in which he allowed just one hit over 4 1/3 innings.
Overall, Lugo is sporting a crisp 2.45 ERA over the 11 innings he’s pitched in the WBC. He’s only allowed six hits and three earned runs over that span while striking out eight and allowing only one free pass.
Lugo will be facing either two-time WBC champions Japan, or one of the tournament’s favorites this year, the USA. Those two square off Tuesday night to see who gets the last pass into the final. Truthfully, either of these teams will surely be a challenge for the Mets up and coming star, but after the way Lugo has shown he can dominate so far, I don’t see him backing down at all.
It’s also worth noting that in such a talent-rich squad team, like Puerto Rico’s, it’s a Mets pitcher that may not even make the rotation that is going to take the mound in the biggest game. Not only is this a testament to the great depth the Mets staff has, but also to how they all really are. Coming back as a World Baseball Classic champion would surely be a huge boost for Lugo as the start of the MLB regular season is also just around the corner.