Mexico comes back to beat Puerto Rico and advance to the semifinals

Isaac Paredes was Mexico’s hero Friday in the World Baseball Classic. (Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports)

The nightmare start didn’t stop Mexico, and now it’s headed to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic for the first time since beating Puerto Rico 5-4 on Friday.

The game opened with four runs by Puerto Rico in the top of the first inning, including back-to-back home runs by Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario. Puerto Rico, who reached the game in unbearable fashion, was all over Mexico’s top pitcher, Julio Urias, the Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander who won the National League ERA title last season.

Mexico backed out from there. Urias, Javier Assad, JoJo Romero, Jake Sanchez and Giovany Gallegos didn’t allow a run after the first inning, and Sanchez got help from WBC All-Star Randy Arozarena for a possible extra base in the eighth inning.

If you’re wondering how much these players care about the WBC, Arozarena reported Fox’s Ken Rosenthal which ranks him above all home runs he’s hit in MLB, including the three he hit in the 2020 World Series:

“That was better than any home run I’ve ever hit in the majors,” he said. “That was better than the home run I hit in the World Series. That catch was the best.”

The offense came in spurts in this quarterfinal as Mexico third baseman Isaac Paredes, who plays for the Tampa Bay Rays, put his country on the board in the second inning with a solo home run. Alex Verdugo delivered Mexico’s second run with a bases-loaded single in the fifth, followed by the real damage in the seventh.

Paredes, who reached base four times, ended up with the bases loaded and with two outs tied the game. Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Luis Urias followed with a single, giving Mexico the lead:

Mexico, who qualified for the quarterfinals as the top seed in Pool C, now face powerhouse Japan on Monday in Miami on Fox Sports 1. A win in that game would put the USA, Venezuela or Cuba in the 2023 WBC. final.

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