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Polanco, Cruz push Dominicans past Venezuela

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Author: AFPFri, 2017-03-17ID: 1489738699370991000SAN DIEGO: The defending champion Dominican Republic took another huge step toward reaching the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) by blanking Venezuela 3-0 in a marathon second round contest Thursday.The mighty Dominicans claimed their first victory of the second round behind home runs by Gregory Polanco and Nelson Cruz and some precision pitching throughout all nine innings.Polanco broke the scoreless draw in the fifth inning with a solo home run off starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin.“I had an idea what he was going to throw. I was right on it,” said Polanco of his first homer of the tournament. “I have dreamed about this. I am so happy to be here.”The 16-team competition concludes with the final at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday.The Dominicans were coming off a rare defeat in this tournament, losing their opening second round contest to Puerto Rico on Tuesday.But this victory puts them back in the driver’s seat as they will enter the final day of the second round action tied for second with the loser of Friday’s USA versus Puerto Rico contest.This was almost a must win for Venezuela, who now need a victory over favored Puerto Rico and for the US to finish 3-0 in the second round to keep their hopes alive.Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez got the start and did not disappoint in the over four hour game in front of a crowd of 16,000 at Petco Park. He pitched four and 1/3 innings, striking out six and allowing four hits.Five other pitchers combined to get the win, including closer Jeurys Familia who recorded the final out to strand runners at the corners.Chacin took the loss for Venezuela. The San Diego Padres pitcher allowed three hits, one run and walked three. He finished with three strikeouts.Dominican third baseman Manny Machado made a couple of clutch defensive plays to get the out at first base. On one in the sixth inning, Machado charged into foul territory to snag a fair ball and in one motion turned and fired to first.First baseman Carlos Santana had to leave the bag to pick up the bouncing ball but recovered in time to get the batter Miguel Cabrera out.The Dominican Republic concludes the second round against the Americans in a much-anticipated game on Saturday.Fukushima as venue for Tokyo 2020 Organizers on Friday confirmed that baseball and softball games for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be held in Fukushima, an area hit by the 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.The International Olympic Committee approved the use of Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium as an additional venue for baseball and softball.The IOC and Tokyo organizers have been eager to use the games as a symbol of recovery from the 2011 disaster that hit Japan’s northeastern region including Fukushima, 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, where entire communities fled after meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.More than 18,000 people died or went missing after a massive earthquake and tsunami.“By hosting Olympic baseball and softball events, Fukushima will have a great platform to show the world the extent of its recovery in the 10 years since the disaster,” Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said.The stadium, which has hosted professional baseball games in recent years, will be renovated for the games. Yokohama Stadium, some 40km (24 miles) from Tokyo, will be the main stadium for the baseball and softball competitions.The proposal to use the 31-year-old Fukushima stadium was approved at the IOC Executive Board meeting in Pyeongchang.Baseball and softball were dropped after the Beijing Olympics in 2008 but have been added to the Olympic program for the 2020 Games.
Main category: Sports

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