Puerto Rico edges Netherlands 4-3 in 11 to reach WBC final

Published: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 1:44 AM
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017 @ 1:42 AM


            Puerto Rico team members celebrate their win over the Netherlands in a semifinal in the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Monday, March 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

Carlos Correa was 17 and watching the World Baseball Classic on television four years ago, too young to participate.

When his chance came around this time, the Houston Astros' star shortstop was up to the task.

Correa hit a two-run homer in the first inning and scored the winning run in the 11th to give Puerto Rico a dramatic 4-3 victory over the Netherlands on Monday night.

Next up is a spot in the championship game.

"When I feel that I'm all excited, I try to calm down, breathe deep and concentrate on what we're doing," Correa said. "This is something that we rehearse every day, so we will be able to do it well at the end."

Eddie Rosario, who went 0 for 4, hit a sacrifice fly to center field in the 11th that drove in Correa, triggering a massive celebration on the field and in the stands from red, white and blue-clad fans pounding cow bells and tooting horns and whistles.

T.J. Rivera's solo shot in the second put Puerto Rico ahead 3-2.

Puerto Rico will play either two-time champion Japan or the United States for the title on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. The Puerto Ricans also reached the final in 2013, losing to the Dominican Republic 3-0.

Puerto Rico has outscored its opponents 55-18 while going 7-0 in this year's tournament.

"It means a lot because Puerto Ricans have gone through a very difficult situation currently and we were able to unite our country," Correa said.

The blond Puerto Rican players, who dyed their hair in a show of unity that has caught on back home, jumped up and down after a lively, emotional and sometimes-testy semifinal that included four replay reviews during the fourth and fifth innings of a game that lasted 4 hours, 19 minutes.

When it was finally over, Kike Hernandez, who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Hiram Burgos raced around the field carrying Puerto Rican flags above their heads.

Curt Smith grounded into a bases-loaded, inning-ending double play for the Netherlands in the 11th, which began with runners on first and second for both teams under tournament rules. It was one of three double plays turned by Puerto Rico.

Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina's defense saved Puerto Rico from a potential grand slam in the first inning when Wladimir Balentien's homer helped the Netherlands to a 2-0 lead, giving orange-clad fans a reason to cheer.

"For me, that was the game," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "Yadier Molina came to play."

Molina capitalized on two baserunning blunders by the Dutch.

Jorge Lopez allowed a leadoff single to Andrelton Simmons and hit Xander Bogaerts with a pitch. Simmons later wandered off the bag toward third and Molina threw to second, but Simmons couldn't get back in time and got caught in a rundown.

Jurickson Profar singled to right, but was slow getting back to first while celebrating and was picked off by Molina, who took Rosario's relay from the outfield. Balentien followed with his mammoth, two-out shot, and celebrated with a bat flip.

"Frustrating for me is the mental errors that we committed," Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. "We talked to the guys before the game about the experience of Yadier Molina behind the plate. If you get too far off, he'll pick you off, and that's what happened. Then Jurickson getting the base hit, celebrating and not getting back to the base, that's unacceptable. That could have been the difference in us winning or not."

Balentien, who had three hits, has been the top slugger in the WBC, batting .615 (16 for 26) with 12 RBIs. His four homers were one shy of the tournament record. He last played in the major leagues in 2009 and has been playing for Yakult in Japan since 2011.

Edwin Diaz threw high and inside to Balentien in the 10th, causing Balentien to point at his head and shake his finger in a warning to Diaz. Players from both teams came out of the dugout, but the situation didn't escalate.

Correa came over to calm down Diaz.

"We were full of emotions," Correa said.

Molina stepped in front of Balentien, as if to dissuade him from approaching the mound, while plate umpire Lance Barksdale attempted to keep the peace. Balentien took a called third strike, one of three punchouts by Diaz in the inning.

"It's just emotions pouring into that at-bat," Meulens said. "Coco had two great swings and two fastballs. The next pitches are in the head area inside. Up in the zone like that is kind of dangerous if it hits you."

Diaz got the victory, and 7-foot-1 Loek Van Mil took the loss.

The Netherlands tied it 3-all in the fifth on Shawn Zarraga's RBI double to deep left-center. That scored Balentien after he doubled high off the videoboard on the left-field wall with two outs. Jonathan Schoop, who had been intentionally walked, was thrown out at the plate on a strong relay by second baseman Javier Baez, a close play that was reviewed.

Baez turned a double play to end the eighth, fielding Smith's grounder and tagging Yurendell Decaster as he ran to second before getting Smith at first. Puerto Rican fans burst into chants and waved flags.

Bogaerts grounded into a double play on a chopper up the middle to end the ninth.

Kenley Jansen, the Dodgers closer, retired the side on nine pitches in the bottom of the ninth, striking out two for the Netherlands.

President Trump declines opportunity to throw out first pitch

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 2:50 PM

FILE PHOTO - Donald Trump attends the Opening Day Game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves at Citi Field on April 5, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Apparently President Donald Trump won’t be singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Nationals Park on opening day. 

Trump has declined to perform the tradition when the Washington Nationals host the Miami Marlins Monday, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

It is due to a scheduling conflict, The Washington Post reported.

The tradition of the president throwing out the first pitch at Washington’s opening-day game started more than 100 years ago , when President William Howard Taft threw out the first pitch for the then-Washington Senators in 1910, ESPN reported

In recent history, George W. Bush and Barack Obama threw out ceremonial first pitches on opening day.

Overall, 13 presidents been part of the ceremony either for the Senators or the Nationals.

There is no word on who will have the honor of throwing out the first pitch.

Nats all-star pitcher Stephen Strasburg is scheduled to start for Washington. Edinson Volquez is the starter listed for the Marlins.

The first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET on Monday.

85 players have qualified for 2017 Masters Tournament field

Published: Monday, February 20, 2017 @ 2:47 PM

The 81st Masters Golf Tournament at the Augusta National Golf Club will take place April 6-9.
BRANT SANDERLIN / AJC

The Masters Tournament at Augusta National is more than a month away. So far, 85 golfers have qualified to participate in the 2017 event.

2016 champion Danny Willett is one of 18 winners who have qualified for entry into the 81st Masters, which tees off April 6 through 9 in Augusta.

Photos: 2016 Masters final round

Last year’s Masters field consisted of 89 players, the fewest players since 2002. 

The Masters is an invitation tournament, but players must qualify under one of these criteria.  Yet to be named are the international invitees and the qualifiers of the Official World Golf Ranking list as of March 27. Here are the 85 names - and the qualifying reason - that have so far earned an invitation: 

Masters Tournament Champions 

Angel Cabrera  

Fred Couples 

Trevor Immelman 

Zach Johnson 

Bernhard Langer  

Sandy Lyle 

Phil Mickelson 

Larry Mize 

Mark O’Meara 

Jose Maria Olazabal  

Charl Schwartzel 

Adam Scott  

Vijay Singh 

Jordan Spieth  

Bubba Watson  

Mike Weir 

Danny Willett 

Tiger Woods  

U.S. Open champions (Five-year exemption) 

Dustin Johnson 

Justin Rose 

Martin Kaymer

Webb Simpson  

British Open Champions (Five-year exemption) 

Ernie Els 

Rory McIlroy 

Henrik Stenson  

PGA Champions (Five-year exemption) 

Jason Dufner (4, 15, 16) 

Jason Day (4, 5, 11, 14, 15, 16, 17) 

Jimmy Walker (4, 16, 17)  

Players Championship Winners (Three-year exemption) 

Rickie Fowler 

Top two finishers of U.S. Amateur Championship 

Curtis Luck 

Brad Dalke 

British Amateur Champion winner 

Scott Gregory 

Latin America Amateur Champion 

Toto Gana  

U.S. Mid-Amateur Champion 

Stewart Hagestad 

Top 12 finishers (including ties) in previous year’s Masters 

Daniel Berger 

Paul Casey

Matthew Fitzpatrick

J.B. Holmes 

Soren Kjeldsen

Hideki Matsuyama

Brandt Snedeker 

Lee Westwood  

Top four finishers (including ties) in previous year’s U.S. Open 

Jim Furyk 

Shane Lowry 

Scott Piercy 

Top four finishers (including ties) in previous year’s British Open 

Steve Stricker 

Top four finishers (including ties) in previous year’s PGA Championship 

Branden Grace 

Brooks Koepka 

Daniel Summerhays  

Winners of non-opposite PGA Tour events since previous Masters (events that award a full-point for the FedEx Cup)

Sergio Garcia 

James Hahn 

Charley Hoffman 

Mackenzie Hughes 

Billy Hurley III 

Si Woo Kim 

Russell Knox 

William McGirt 

Ryan Moore  

Rod Pampling 

Pat Perez 

Jon Rahm 

Patrick Reed 

Brendan Steele 

Brian Stuard 

Hudson Swafford 

Justin Thomas 

Jhonattan Vegas  

Qualifiers for 2016 Tour Championship 

Roberto Castro 

Kevin Chappell 

Emiliano Grillo 

Kevin Kisner 

Matt Kuchar 

Sean O'Hair 

Kevin Na 

Gary Woodland  

Top 50 on final 2016 Official World Golf Ranking

An Byeong-hun

Rafael Cabrera Bello 

Bill Haas 

Tyrrell Hatton 

Yuta Ikeda 

Francesco Molinari  

Alex Noren

Louis Oosthuizen 

Thomas Pieters  

Andy Sullivan 

Bernd Wiesberger 

Chris Wood 

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NFL quarterback falls for golf course snake prank

Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017 @ 1:07 PM

AJO, AZ - MARCH 27:  A rattlesnake tastes the air on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Reserve on March 27, 2006 near Ajo, Arizona. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
David McNew/Getty Images

Sir Hissalot strikes again. The fake rattlesnake used in golf course pranks took on an NFL quarterback this week and the amusing result is making the rounds on social media.

>> Read more trending news

Brock Osweiler, formerly with the Denver Broncos and  Houston Texans and now a member of the Cleveland Browns, was playing at an Arizona golf course when the fake snake was placed next to his golf cart, according to KHOU. Osweiler showed his speed in escaping threats off the field by hightailing it away from the prop.

The prank was caught on camera and posted on Sir Hissalot's Instagram page.

@nfl quarterback @bosweiler17 is not a fan of #hissalot! (@coopsgolf)

A post shared by ♛Sir Hissalot♛ (@hissalot) on

Looking at past weather, here’s what to expect at the Masters 

Published: Thursday, March 23, 2017 @ 10:49 AM

A pin flag blows in the wind during practice rounds of the 2016 Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club.
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

When the Masters Tournament returns to Augusta on April 6, thousands of spectators will surround Augusta National Gold Club to watch their favorite golfers compete for their own green jacket.

Based on a climatology report for April 3 — the date of the first practice round in Augusta — WSB Channel 2 Action News meteorologist Katie Walls explains what event spectators should anticipate at the Augusta National Golf Club.

No azaleas at this year’s Masters?

Walls said the average low temperature since 1871 has been 48.3 degress with an average high of 73.9 degrees.

“Looking back at the weather for that day in history going back to 1871, 25 percent of years on that date received 0.01 inch or greater rainfall and seven percent picked up 0.50 inch or greater rainfall,” Walls said. 

As the Masters approaches, WSB and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will provide weather updates for the tournament.

Click here for more coverage from the Masters Tournament.  

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