2013 WBC: Pool 2 Review

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Pool 2 in the 2013 World Baseball Classic was one full of surprises for the tournament and much like Pool 1 had two very different type of teams. There were the teams that were expected to make it into this round and those who were not expected to make it in. The USA and Dominican Republic were expected to be here while Italy and Puerto Rico were not thought to be able to make it here. The difference with this pool than Pool 1 was that the teams that were not expected to make it were not complete surprises. In a pool that contained the Canadians, Mexicans and Americans the Italians came out as the second place team. It was somewhat surprising to see them there but the team had been better every tournament and was up against a pool where there were few true powerhouses that were expected to move on. Meanwhile the Puerto Ricans were always a good team but fell in the background against two teams with the talent of Venezuela and the Dominican. They proved to be better than most thought and would get their shot in the second round of the tournament to continue to prove that they are a great team. Pool 2 seemed to have to favorites but with the way the tournament had gone so far there really were no sure things anymore. Every team had a truly equal chance at winning as the Netherlands had already proven in Pool 1. The pool would begin with the Dominican Republic taking the first win from the Italians in a close game that saw the Dominicans come back to take away an early 4 run lead by the Italians. The USA would take the next game easily beating the Puerto Ricans 7-1 and moving one step closer to getting that elusive WBC championship. In the battle of the losers the Puerto Ricans would win in a very close game with the Italians. The Italians would go up 3-0 in the fifth inning but the Puerto Ricans would come back to score 4 runs to continue in the tournament. The loss would eliminate the Italians from the tournament after a great run that would see them move further than ever before in the tournament. In the matchup of the winners the Dominicans would take on the Americans in a very close game. In the end it was the Dominican Republic who would earn two runs in the top of the ninth inning to win the game. The Dominican Republic would earn a berth in the semi-finals with the win while the Americans would be forced to fight it out with the Puerto Ricans for the last spot in the semi-finals. The Puerto Ricans would get out to an early lead and would hold on for dear life to keep the lead. In the 7th the Americans would be down 4-0 and would begin to come back. The comeback would fall just short though as the Puerto Ricans would win the game 4-3 and eliminate the Americans from the tournament. They would also earn a date with the Dominican Republic to determine the top seeded team from Pool 2. It would be another very close game as Both teams would look to their pitching for help. The Dominican Republic would get the most help though as they would limit Puerto Rico to three hits throughout the entire game. With that the Dominicans would score two runs and take the top seed in the pool.

The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico earned their spots in the semi-finals as they both look to win the World Baseball Classic. The Dominicans are the likely favorite at this point with a roster that reads like an MLB All-Star team. With hitters like Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz, and Carlos Santana there are very few soft spots in the batting order. Then add that to the pitching staff led by Fernando Rodney, Wandy Rodriguez, and Santiago Casilla and you have a very formidable team. They will be the favorites going into the semi-finals and they have been favorites since the beginning of the tournament. They have yet to disappoint in the tournament and there is not a lot of evidence to show they will stop their run now. Meanwhile the Puerto Ricans have been on the outside of many predictions as they are rarely considered the best team on the field. Yet they still seem to win and do have a stronger roster than they get credit for. The Puerto Ricans have ground out their wins in this tournament and they have overcome teams that many thought were better than them. With the tournament continuing to run as it has there is no guarantee that either team will make it to the finals. Still both have a good chance as only one game stands between them and the gold medal game. It will be another entertaining part of this already entertaining tournament where anything can happen.

Final Standings:
1. Dominican Republic
2. Puerto Rico
3. USA
4. Italy

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