Alden GonzalezESPN Employees Writer10:31 PM ET4 Minute Study
Mexico celebrates immediately after final K to get rid of Puerto Rico
Giovanny Gallegos freezes Enrique Hernandez to send Mexico into the semifinals to face Japan.
MIAMI — They had rallied all the way back, erasing an early 4-run deficit, but if Mexico was to advance to its 1st Planet Baseball Classic semifinal and get rid of a star-studded Puerto Rico group, one more huge play required to be created.
Randy Arozarena, of course, delivered it.
Clinging to a 1-run lead in the eighth inning of Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup, Arozarena raced close to the left-center-field fence and created an improbable leaping catch up against it, erasing what would have been a game-tying further-base hit and assisting Mexico, his adopted dwelling nation, hold on to a five-four victory in front of a sellout crowd at LoanDepot Park.
Arozarena became a household name whilst dominating all through the 2020 postseason. When his Tampa Bay Rays reached the Planet Series, he supplied 3 dwelling runs. Arozarena was reminded of that late Friday evening and was asked to recognize his greatest moment on a baseball field.
“2023, Planet Baseball Classic, eighth inning, that catch,” he mentioned in Spanish, drawing a laugh from a packed interview area.
Arozarena, 28, was born and raised in Cuba. He left the island in 2015 and arrived in Mexico, exactly where he played winter ball, had a daughter and fell in really like with his new dwelling. He became a citizen of Mexico in April of final year solely since he wanted to represent the nation in this Planet Baseball Classic — and he has taken complete benefit.
Arozarena was the MVP of Pool C, going 7-for-14 whilst driving in nine runs and scoring six other people as Mexico won 3 of its 4 games. He then created the most significant play in arguably the most significant game in Mexican baseball history, sending Mexico into a semifinal matchup against powerhouse Japan on Monday.
“I really feel outstanding,” Arozarena mentioned. “I’ve had some outstanding moments for my profession.”
Puerto Rico, playing in the wake of Edwin Diaz’s sobering knee injury, jumped out to a four- lead in the 1st inning against Mexican ace Julio Urias, receiving back-to-back dwelling runs from Javier Baez and Eddie Rosario. But Puerto Rico did not muster substantially offense the rest of the way, and Mexico lastly bridged the gap whilst down to its final seven outs.
Alexis Diaz entered to his brother’s popular stroll-out song, “Narco,” but proceeded to load the bases with none out, providing up a double to Austin Barnes and back-to-back walks to Arozarena and Alex Verdugo. Jorge Lopez came out of the bullpen to record two fast outs. But Isaac Paredes lined a two-run single to left field and Luis Urias dumped a base hit into shallow proper, providing Mexico its 1st lead of the game.
Edwin Diaz, who tore the patellar tendon in his proper knee for the duration of Puerto Rico’s on-field celebration following its win against the Dominican Republic on Wednesday evening, reached out to Alexis immediately after the game to inform him he went via equivalent conditions in 2019. He told him to block all the outdoors noise and to hold believing in himself.
“It really is been seriously painful for me,” Alexis Diaz, seemingly on the verge of tears, mentioned of not getting his brother with him. “I wanted each of us to be collectively in the Classic. Not getting him right here has been seriously hard for me. But I am a warrior and I went out there. I could not achieve what I wanted, but I am going to hold going forward this season.”
Puerto Rico had a possibility to avenge Diaz and tie the game the following inning, with a runner on 1st and Emmanuel Rivera uncorking a deep drive to left-center field. But Arozarena, who has awed fans with his play and dazzled teammates with his cowboy boots for the duration of this tournament, would not have it. Soon after he secured the catch and chucked the baseball back toward the infield, Arozarena settled onto the warning track and stretched his arms out wide, his palms exposed and his mouth agape, one more signature pose from the Cuban-born outfielder who fell in really like with Mexico.
Stated Mexican manager Benji Gil: “He’s a kid who’s extremely focused on carrying out almost everything inside his energy to support this family members of Mexican warriors get a possibility to play for a globe championship.”