Carlos Santana smacked a home run in the fifth inning and the Dominican Republic remained undefeated in the World Baseball Classic with a 2-0 victory over Puerto Rico in a seeding game on Saturday.
The Dominican collection of Major League Baseball stars, ousted in the first round of the 2009 Classic thanks to two losses to the Netherlands, will have a chance to reach their first Classic final by downing the Dutch in a semi-final.
Two-time defending champion Japan will face Puerto Rico in a semi-final on Sunday at San Francisco while the Dominicans face the Netherlands on Monday in the other semi-final. Semi-final winners meet Tuesday in the championship game.
"I'm so excited," Santana said. "The team is playing very well. To go to San Francisco is simply a great present. We'll play hard.
Santana smashed a change-up pitch from Puerto Rico right-handed starter Orlando Roman over the right-field wall to provide the only run the Dominicans needed.
"It was great," Santana said. "Not too many runs. The runs just weren't happening."
In the eighth inning, Puerto Rico's Martin Maldonado walked and took second base on Irving Falu's sacrifice bunt, moving the tying run to scoring position.
But Andy Gonzalez followed with a ground ball to Dominican shortstop Erick Aybar, who flipped the ball to third base so Miguel Tejada could tag out Maldonado as he tried to advance, ending the Puerto Rico threat.
Aybar added an insurance run when the Dominicans came to bat in the eighth, hitting a single to left, advancing to third on a Robinson Cano single to right and scoring on a two-out single to right by Francisco Pena.
Fernando Rodney took the mound for the Dominicans in the ninth inning and surrendered a two-out double to Puerto Rico's Mike Aviles before inducing Eddie Rosario into a game-ending ground out to second base.