Correa homers, Puerto Rico advances in WBC, beats Italy
GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) Carlos Correa hit a three-run homer, and Puerto Rico qualified for the second round of the World Baseball Classic with a 9-3 victory against Italy on Sunday.
Correa connected in the fourth inning, belting a drive to left-center to make it 7-3. The Houston Astros star also walked twice and scored two runs.
Enrique Hernandez also drove in three runs for Puerto Rico, which went 3-0 in the first round. Puerto Rico also beat Venezuela 11-0 and Mexico 9-4.
''From the beginning there was no doubt that we can get past this round but the goal is to win it all,'' Hernandez said. ''Every WBC game means the same, there*s no small opponent. We have a lot of pride and what we showed here we are going to bring it to the table in the next round, that*s what you can expect.''
Next up for Puerto Rico is the Dominican Republic on Tuesday in San Diego. It's a rematch of the 2013 final, won by the Dominicans.
''Four years ago we came up short but we were very anxious since the last out then until the start of this tournament,'' Hernandez said. ''We're very hungry and we want to take that gold to Puerto Rico. We have a great team and we*re going against the Dominican Republic, I know that they won their three games in Miami, but so did we, so we are going to be ready for them.''
Italy still had a chance to advance, but needed Mexico to beat Venezuela in the later game.
Winning pitcher Jose Berrios, from the Minnesota Twins, allowed three runs in the first two innings. He wound up going five innings, giving up just two hits.
''I came out with a lot of energy and enthusiasm and they got me in the first inning and then in the second,'' he said, ''but the main thing is that I did not put my guard down, I regrouped and pitched three scoreless innings, I knew that I had to keep competing to try to help the team.''
Italy starter Luis Lugo gave up four runs in 2 1/3 innings.