MIAMI (AP) — Dominican manager Tony Pena sat at a microphone in an interview room, choking back tears. Just beyond the walls, in the stadium plaza, his celebrating countrymen made a jubilant clamor.
“I feel so emotional,” Pena said finally. “Today was the battle of two titans.”
The Dominican Republic won, beating the United States 3-1 Thursday night to earn a berth in the final round of the World Baseball Classic.
Pinch-hitter Erick Aybar singled home Nelson Cruz with the go-ahead run in the ninth for the Dominicans, who improved to 5-0. They’re assured of a spot in the semifinals beginning Sunday in San Francisco, where two-time defending champion Japan and the Netherlands have already advanced.
The United States must face Puerto Rico on Friday night, with the winner earning a trip to San Francisco and the loser being eliminated.