Cham­pi­onship | Tue, Mar 19

DOM 3, PUR 0

SAN FRANCISCO — The air horns, whis­tles and con­gas that were the back­ground noise to all eight con­sec­u­tive Domini­can Repub­lic vic­to­ries in the third World Base­ball Clas­sic could be heard from one end of the con­ti­nent to the oth­er on Tues­day night.

At AT&T Park, where the Domini­cans received their gold medals after defeat­ing neigh­bor­ing Puer­to Rico, 3–0, in the cham­pi­onship game, orange, white and blue con­fet­ti was sent stream­ing into the damp air. Mean­while, thou­sands of miles away in the Caribbean, a coun­try rev­eled as the Domini­can Repub­lic defeat­ed Puer­to Rico for the third time in the tournament.

The unde­feat­ed Domini­can Repub­lic is unques­tion­ably the king of the Caribbean and the wider base­ball world, unseat­ing the two-time defend­ing Clas­sic cham­pi­on Japan­ese in the only inter­na­tion­al base­ball tour­na­ment that includes Major League players.

“This means a lot to us,” said Robin­son Cano, the Yan­kees sec­ond base­man who now can add the Clas­sic gold to his 2009 World Series ring. “I’m excit­ed right now. This is for your coun­try and comes from the bot­tom of your heart. We know how much our fans want­ed it. This means the world to us. You know how it is back home.”

Cano was named the Most Valu­able Play­er of the tour­na­ment after win­ning the hon­or for each of the first two rounds. No team has ever won out through the tour­na­ment and as the Domini­can Repub­lic did it for the first time, Cano hit .469 (15-for-32) with four dou­bles, two homers, six RBIs and 25 total bases.

His 15 hits set the record for most hits by any­one in a sin­gle Clas­sic, sur­pass­ing the 13 knocked out by Japan’s Nobuhiko Mat­suna­ka in 2006.

But in no way was Cano the only star in this tour­na­ment from his star-stud­ded team. Rays clos­er Fer­nan­do Rod­ney record­ed a Clas­sic-record sev­enth save by pitch­ing the ninth inning on Tues­day. Pre­vi­ous­ly unher­ald­ed starter Samuel Deduno of the Twins fin­ished 2–0 with 17 strike­outs and a 0.69 ERA after fir­ing five innings of score­less, two-hit ball and whiff­ing five against the Puer­to Ricans.

The Domini­can Repub­lic’s bullpen was lights-out for the tour­na­ment, which can be illus­trat­ed by the fact that the Domini­cans won their last five games by a total of 10 runs, includ­ing a 4–1 vic­to­ry over the feisty King­dom of the Nether­lands in a semi­fi­nal game here on Monday.

“I wish I could be in the Domini­can right now because our coun­try is rock­ing,” said Moi­ses Alou, the for­mer Major Lea­guer who put togeth­er this team as gen­er­al man­ag­er and is part of a proud base­ball-play­ing Domini­can Repub­lic fam­i­ly. “This is base­ball. In the Domini­can every­body eats and breathes base­ball. This has to be right there on top of every­thing, even win­ning a gold medal in the Olympics.”

On a rainy night in the City by the Bay, Deduno took his club on the path to vic­to­ry and Jose Reyes led the offen­sive attack with a dou­ble and a triple. The bullpen then came into play. Pedro Strop shut down a late ral­ly, San­ti­a­go Casil­la pitched a score­less eighth in front of his home Giants fans and Rod­ney fin­ished off the Puer­to Ricans, start­ing a wild cel­e­bra­tion on the infield.

Like Cano, Casil­la can now add the Clas­sic gold to the two World Series titles his Giants have won in the past three years.

“I mean, this win is going to go to the whole coun­try of the Domini­can Repub­lic because it was hun­gry wait­ing for this moment,” said Reyes, the for­mer Mets and Mar­lins short­stop who is now with the Blue Jays. “We stayed togeth­er as a team. We had good com­mu­ni­ca­tion, good chem­istry — that’s why we won every­thing. Like I said before, this win is going to go to the whole Domini­can Republic.”

Reyes led off the bot­tom of the first with a dou­ble to right field and scored along with Cano on a dou­ble to right-cen­ter by Edwin Encar­na­cion as the Domini­cans took the first lead of the much-antic­i­pat­ed cham­pi­onship game. They upped their lead to an insur­mount­able 3–0 on an RBI dou­ble in the fifth by Erick Aybar, who had a pair of hits on the night.

Puer­to Rico tried to stage a ral­ly with light rain falling in the sev­enth. Mike Aviles led off with a sin­gle and Alex Rios walked. But Strop came in and stopped the ral­ly. He whiffed two and then Jesus Feli­ciano hit a foul pop that vet­er­an Miguel Teja­da caught crash­ing to the ground as he reached the bullpen.

But in the end it was just too much Domini­can Repub­lic. The Puer­to Ricans evi­dent­ly rec­og­nized that.

As the Domini­can play­ers cel­e­brat­ed and were pre­sent­ed with the World Base­ball Clas­sic tro­phy, plus had the medals placed around their col­lec­tive necks, Team Puer­to Rico stood on the field in uni­son and watched the ceremony.

After all, the Domini­cans were the pro­hib­i­tive favorites once again when the tour­ney began. The Puer­to Ricans, who won five of their nine games at the right time to advance, went far­ther than any­one could have antic­i­pat­ed. In that they joined Brazil and Spain, who qual­i­fied for the group of 16 for the first time, Chi­nese Taipei and Italy, which moved on to the sec­ond round, and the Dutch, who were treat­ed to a spot in the semis.

“I played in it in 2009 and it was fun then, but 2013 was some­thing dif­fer­ent,” Aviles said. “We were able to put togeth­er a team that was more a team than any­thing, and I think that’s the rea­son we were able to get to the final. We had an actu­al team atmos­phere, a good mix of young guys and old guys, and the fact that every­one was proud to put this uni­form on and we con­tin­ued to play with pride. I think that was the biggest thing, to play with pride and make every­body proud.”

Bar­ry M. Bloom is a nation­al reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boom­skie on Base­ball. Fol­low@boomskie on Twit­ter. This sto­ry was not sub­ject to the approval of Major League Base­ball or its clubs.