By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Venezuela improved to 2-0 in Pool D of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, beating Puerto Rico 9-6 at Loan Depot Park in Miami.
Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina gave the ball to starting pitcher Jose Berrios, who went just one inning and two batters before being lifted, giving up five hits, five earned runs, walking two batters, and striking out one before Fernando Cruz came into the game in the second inning.
Venezuela surged to a lead in the top of the first inning, as Salvador Perez singled on a line drive to right field as Jose Altuve came in to score the first run of the game. The next batter, Anthony Santander, drove a home run over the right center field wall and Ronald Acuna Jr. and Perez came in to score as Venezuela took a 4-0 lead before Puerto Rico could retire a batter.
In the top of the second inning, Venezuela struck again chunking more runs on the board as Perez unleashed a three-run home run to left center field as Altuve and Luis Arraez came in to score to go up 7-0.
In the bottom of the second inning, Puerto Rico got on the scoreboard when Eddie Rosario cranked a solo home run to right center field to for their first run of the game.
During the top of the fourth inning Venezuela extended their lead to seven when David Peralta singled on a ground ball to shortstop Francisco Lindor, scoring Perez to make it 8-1.
In the top of the fifth inning, Perez stayed hot, stroking a double to center field, scoring Acuna Jr. for an eight run lead. Perez had a four-hit and five RBI night.
Venezuela starting pitcher Pablo Lopez pitched 4.2 innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, walking none, and striking out six.
During the bottom of the sixth inning, Puerto Rico looked to climb back in the game, as Enrique Hernandez smacked a ground-ball single that was deflected by third basemen Eduardo Escobar, and Vimael Machin came in to score to make it 9-2. A few batters later, Emmanuel Rivera ripped a sharp ground-ball single to left field. Lindor scored and the Puerto Rico deficit was cut to six, at 9-3.
Puerto Rico manufactured four runs during the bottom of the sixth inning, starting with Javier Baez’ RBI ground out to third base, sending Hernandez home to make it 9-4. The next batter, Eddie Rosario, placed a sacrifice fly to center field, plating MJ Melendez to cut the lead to four.
Puerto Rico could not finish the comeback, as Venezuela’s bullpen settled down and relief pitcher Silvino Bracho replaced Jhouyls Chacin during the bottom of the eighth inning. Bracho closed the game with a six-out save, retiring all six batters he faced in order with no harm done.
Venezuela improved to 2-0 during the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Puerto Rico is 1-1 now during the tournament and will look to get over .500 as they will face 1-0 Israel on Monday at 7 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1. Venezuela will look to continue their consistent journey during the 2023 World Baseball Classic as they will face 0-2 Nicaragua at 12 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 2.