SAN FRANCISCO -- Dominican players poured onto the field to celebrate a pair of runs in the first and danced in the dugout by the fifth.
And when it was over? That's when the Dominican Republic really let loose.
The players with Dominicana stitched across the front of their jerseys piled onto each other on the pitchers mound, many of them carrying their nation's flag. They reached the top of the World Baseball Classic mountain by defeating Puerto Rico 3-0 in the championship game at AT&T Park.
A light but steady drizzle did little to mellow the mood for the Dominicans, who went 8-0 during the WBC. They became the first team to go undefeated over the course of the tournament, which was also played in '06 and ''09.
The crowd of 35,703 fans waved flags, tooted horns, pounded drums and shook noisemakers throughout the spirited meeting between island nations. The three games AT&T Park drew 96,913 fans, extending the overall WBC attendance record to 885,212.
Shortstop Jose Reyes -- one of six players on the Dominican squad to make a Major League All-Star team -- led the charge Tuesday night with a double and a triple. His Toronto Blue Jays teammate Edwin Encarnacion drove him home in the first inning with a tone-setting two-run double.
After Dominican starter Samuel Deduno (Minnesota Twins) did his job with five scoreless innings, the team's heralded bullpen also did its job. Entering the night, Dominican relievers had recorded 21.2 consecutive scoreless innings. The bullpen last allowed a run March 10, in the fourth inning against Puerto Rico.
The Dominicans scored twice in the first inning against Puerto Rico starter Giancarlo Alvarado, who lasted just one inning. Reyes, the leadoff batter and one of the most animated players in the tournament, crushed a line drive off the brick wall for a double. After sliding into second, he clapped his hands enthusiastically as if to say: Let's go.
After Erik Aybar advanced Reyes on a bunt, Alvarado issued an intentional walk to Robinson Cano, who entered the night hitting .517. The strategy backfired one out later when Encarnacion drilled a double over the head of center filed Angel Pagan (Giants) to make it 2-0.
Deduno enjoyed the early lead, allowing just two hits and walked three walks over his 76-pitch outing.
Among the parade of relievers was Giants right-hander Santiago Casilla, who contributed a scoreless eighth. Fernando Rodney of the Tampa Bay Rays earned his WBC record seventh save. The Dominicans won eight games in the tournament -- and Rodney saved all but one of them.
Puerto Rico threatened in the fifth inning, but a sensational catch thwarted the rally. With Alex Rios at second base and one out, Andy Gonzalez launched a deep drive to center field, where Alejandro De Aza, a Chicago White Sox outfielder known for his speed and defensive prowess, made a terrific over-the-shoulder grab. More impressively, he did so while looking up into a light rain.
In two previous showdowns against Puerto Rico in this WBC, the Dominican Republic won by scores of 4-2 (on March 10) and 2-0 (March 16). The only other meeting between these countries in WBC was Puerto Rico's 7-1 victory in 2006.
Edwin Rodriguez, the manager for Team Puerto Rico, scouted Pagan when the outfielder was at high school in Rio Piedras, P.R. "They call him Crazy Horse for a reason," Rodriguez said. "He has always been like that -- very intense, a lot of passion for the game, respects the game. He respects the opposing team and he plays the game right."
Dominican manager Tony Pena had a pre-game prediction: "The only thing I can tell you is in the Dominican Republic, tonight, it will be nobody in the street. There will not be anybody watching any other channel. Soap opera, news, nothing. The whole country -- the whole country -- will be watching the ballgame. Because in the Dominican Republic, the No. 1 pastime is baseball."
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