MIAMI — Once again, the United States could only watch as an opposing pitcher celebrated at the World Baseball Classic.
This time it was 38-year-old right-hander Nelson Figueroa, who became the pride of Puerto Rico on Friday night when he led his team into the semifinals and eliminated the Americans, 4-3.
“We were supreme underdogs against that lineup," Figueroa said. “It was motivation to show them what kind of pitcher I was."
On Thursday, demonstrative Dominicans dominated the All-Star-laden U.S. squad. The Americans endured a scoreless streak of 14 innings spanning the two defeats, and Figueroa limited them to two singles in six shutout innings.
The Americans have still not won the WBC — or even reached the final — in three tries.
“When you play double-elimination, it’s a crapshoot," manager Joe Torre said. “And Figueroa pitched his tail off tonight."
The Puerto Ricans advanced for the first time to the semifinals, which begin Sunday in San Francisco.
— The Associated Press