United States will play Japan in semis

By Bernie Wilson

The Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The United States is going to the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic for the second time thanks to another impressive home run by Giancarlo Stanton at Petco Park and a spectacular catch at the fence by hometown favorite Adam Jones.

Stanton hit a go-ahead, two-run shot into the third-level balcony of the Western Metal Supply Co. Building in the left-field corner in the fourth inning and Jones robbed Baltimore Orioles teammate Manny Machado of a home run in the seventh to help the Americans beat the Dominican Republic 6-3 on Saturday night, eliminating the defending champions.

Team USA will face Japan on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium for a spot in the championship game.

A number of big-name players declined to play for the United States. Manager Jim Leyland appreciates those who did sign up.

“There were a lot of people that respectfully declined and we’re not going to throw anybody under the bus,” Leyland said. “We’re going to honor the people that accepted and are here. So we’re moving forward and that’s all we’re talking about. … And right now that’s the only team I care about. And these players that are here are the only players I care about right now.”

Those who were with Team USA certainly put on a show.

Stanton’s homer gave the United States a 4-2 lead and put a charge into the sellout crowd of 43,002.

The slugger’s shot was reminiscent of his Home Run Derby victory at Petco Park on July 11, when he peppered the far reaches of the big downtown ballpark, including hitting one onto the top of the 108-year-old brick warehouse.

“Yeah, it did kind of feel like the Home Run Derby,” Stanton said.

Three innings later, Jones leaped and reached over the fence in the deepest part of the park in right-center to rob Machado of a home run. Machado tipped his helmet to Jones.

“I’m still in kind of shock that I even got to that ball,” said Jones, who played at Morse High about 8 miles east of Petco. “I mean, off the bat I’m just like, ‘This ball’s hit really far, so just keep going, keep going. You know this California air’s going to slow it down and just never quit.’ That’s just the style I play with. I don’t mind running into a wall or two. I just kept going after the ball.

“I saw the replay after the game. It was a hell of catch,” he added.

Robinson Cano then homered to left to pull the Dominican Republic to 4-3.

Andrew McCutchen gave Team USA some breathing room with a two-run double in the eighth, and Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect ninth to close it out.

This is the second time in four editions of the WBC that the United States has advanced to the semifinals. It lost to Japan in 2009.

The Dominican players, who rallied to beat the United States one week earlier in Miami in the first round, will disperse back to big league camps. They finished 1-2 in the second round after going 3-0 in the opening round.

Cole shines in second spring start

BRADENTON, Fla. (AP) — Gerrit Cole made his second Grapefruit League start and first since March 3, working five strong innings. He gave up five hits, including a home run by Ezequiel Carrera, and struck out five. David Freese doubled and singled for Pittsburgh, raising his average to .360.

Mike Bolsinger, transitioning to long relief and spot starting for 2017, started and worked 2ª innings for the Jays.

The Blue Jays rallied for four ninth-inning runs against reliever Antonio Bastardo, but the Pirates rallied back for three more — keyed by Gift Ngoepe’s RBI double — in the bottom of the ninth, leading to an 11-11 tie Sunday afternoon at LECOM Park.

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