SAN FRANCISCO – Cheers of “Dominicana! Dominicana!” rang outthrough the rain at AT&T Park all the way to the streets of Santo Domingo.
The Dominican Republic has its World Baseball Classic crown, at last.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run double in the first inning that held up, and the Dominicans capped a dominant, unbeaten run through the WBC with a 3-0 win against Puerto Rico for the championship Tuesday night.
“Tomorrow will be a national holiday,” said Moises Alou, the proud Dominican general manager. “It was a tremendous win.”
Robinson Cano earned MVP honors, Erick Aybar added an RBI double to back winner Samuel Deduno, and the demonstrative Dominican righty threw his arms into the air in delight after watching a run-saving defensive gem by center fielder Alejandro De Aza in a tough fifth.
The Dominican fans didn’t let the wet weather keep them from dancing in the stands, waving flags that became makeshift ponchos and tooting horns.
It was fitting, too, perhaps, considering the World Series champion Giants clinched the N.L. pennant against the Cardinals in a downpour on this very field last fall.
Some 50,000 more supporters gathered to watch on TV inside and outside of Estadio Quisqueya in the Dominican capital city.
“There will not be anybody watching any other channel,” manager Tony Pena said before the game.
Now, the Dominicans get their long-awaited fiesta. A party they figured to have in 2009, when the Netherlands spoiled the plan by winning twice for a stunning first-round exit.
After Fernando Rodney struck out Luis Figueroa to end it, the Dominicans rushed the mound – each player waving his own flag. Well, Rodney held up his lucky plantain that served him well for a second straight day. He won’t eat it. He said it “is going to be my second trophy.”
“This is my gold medal,” he said. “It will be my black diamond, because it’s changing color. I kept telling everybody to relax and not to worry about (the pressure).”
The Dominicans (8-0) won it in the city where countrymen Felipe, Jesus and the late Matty Alou made history in 1963 when they appeared in the same Giants outfield for several games. Moises Alou is the son of former San Francisco skipper, Felipe.
Forgotten in it all was that the star-studded U.S. team failed to reach the final in a third straight WBC and two-time reigning champion Japan was ousted by Puerto Rico Sunday.