SAN FRANCISCO – Alex Rios hit a two-run homer, Mike Aviles singled twice and drove in a run, and Puerto Rico eliminated two-time reigning World Baseball Classic champion Japan with a 3-1 win Sunday night to reach the final.
Puerto Rico will play in Tuesday night’s championship against either the Netherlands or the Dominican Republic. Those teams meet in the tournament’s second semifinal tonight.
A Puerto Rico team that didn’t even gather as a full squad for the first time until March 4 in Fort Myers, Fla., reached the championship round for the first time.
Unlike the previous WBC winners from Japan, this team was devoid of major leaguers and couldn’t pull off a three-peat. Hirokazu Ibata drove in the team’s lone run with an eighth-inning single before a costly baserunning blunder.