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2023 World Baseball Classic Day 7: Perfection for Puerto Rico

History was made during Monday’s late Pool D game at the World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic Pool D: Puerto Rico v Israel Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

We are getting into the heart of this year’s World Baseball Classic. Two of the four pools are now fully in the books, and the other two are starting to take shape. We are now just two days away from the other two pools wrapping up and the knockout stage beginning.

However before we get to all that, let’s look back at yesterday’s action at the WBC, which ended up being quite eventful.

Pool B: Korea (2-2) 22, China (0-4) 2 - 5 innings

It came too little, too late for their championship hopes, but Korea wrapped up their tournament on a high note with a record-breaking win over China. Korea’s 22 runs set a WBC record for the most in a single game as they pounded China in a mercy rule win.

Korea got started quickly with two runs in the first, which China actually answered in the bottom half of the inning. The difference was that China stopped scoring there and Korea very much didn’t. Korea scored two in the second, eight in the third, six in the fourth, and five in the fifth, going up 20 runs before the game ended via the mercy rule.

All nine players in Korea’s starting lineup recorded a hit, with four different players putting up three-hit games. One of them was Kunwoo Park, who homered and drove in five runs on the day. Since China went winless in the pool and Czech Republic beat them, they’ll be relegated to the WBC qualifiers next time around for the 2026 games.

Pool D: Dominican Republic (1-1) 6, Nicaragua (0-3) 1

The Dominican Republic bounced back after their tournament-opening loss by picking up a fairly straightforward win over Nicaragua — now staring down the barrel of returning to the WBC qualifiers themselves alongside China.

The DR was in control for basically the entire game, taking a lead in the first inning on a Rafael Devers RBI double. They scored all six of their runs before Nicaragua tallied a consolation run in the eighth. A lot of the DR’s big guns were firing, with both Juan Soto and Manny Machado going deep.

On the mound, they got four shutout innings from Cristian Javier. After struggling in Nicaragua’s loss to Israel, Yankees reliever Jonathan Loáisiga didn’t appear in this game.

Pool C: Great Britain (1-2) 7, Colombia (1-1) 5

Pool C continues to be wild with arguably the third decently big upset in as many days. After looking fairly outclassed against both the US and especially Canada, Great Britain pulled off an upset over Colombia, who themselves were coming off a victory over Mexico (the same ballclub that clobbered Team USA).

Colombia looked to be on their way to a 2-0 start after they took a 3-0 lead in the top of the fourth inning thanks to RBI hits from Oscar Mercado and Dayan Frias. However Great Britain battled back with three runs in the bottom of the fourth to even things up. They followed that up an inning later by taking the lead on a Jaden Rudd double that plated two runs.

Highly-rated Mariners prospect Harry Ford added to that lead with a seventh-inning home run, as GB opened up a four-run lead.

In the top of the ninth, Colombia mounted a rally when Dilson Herrera led off the inning with a home run. Colombia then had runners on second and third with just one out of the inning, but only managed to score one run on a groundout from that spot. Great Britain pitcher Ian Gibaut finished things off for the save, despite a “T” falling off of the lettering on his uniform.

Pool D: Puerto Rico (2-1) 10, Israel (1-1) 0 - 8 innings

While the mercy rule prevented them from getting the full nine innings, Puerto Rico did not allow any Israel batter to reach base in an eight-inning “perfect game” or whatever you want to call it.

Former top prospect José De León (now in Twins camp) got the start for Puerto Rico and was dominant, striking out 10 batters in 5.2 innings before being removed due to hitting the pitch count limit.

After De León left, the pitching picked up where he left off. Yacksel Ríos, Edwin Díaz, and Duane Underwood Jr. then combined for 2.1 more perfect innings, finishing off the eight-inning perfecto. The performance goes down as the first ever perfect game in WBC history, and just the second no-hitter, joining a seven-inning gem from the Netherlands Shairon Martis from the first-ever edition back in 2006.

The reason the game only went eight innings was because the Puerto Rico lineup also went off. Francisco Lindor led the way, going 2-for-3 with a walk and three RBI. Also in a weird “only in a tournament” situation, the game — and therefore the eight-inning perfect game — ended due to a walk-off hit from a team up nine runs already.

Pool C: USA (2-1) 12, Canada (1-1) 1 - 7 innings

After falling to Mexico, the US needed a bounce-back performance, and boy did they get one. Team USA sent 12 hitters to the plate in the bottom of first inning as they put up a nine spot on two pitchers who spent last year in A-Ball and never looked back. Mookie Betts and Mike Trout both safely reached base twice in the frame, as the US went up big early and cruised from there.

They added three more in the second, putting them up 12, which allowed the mercy rule to be reached after the top of the seventh. Every US batter who got a plate appearance recorded a hit, with the lone exception of Kyle Tucker. The US emptied the bench for the seventh inning, which saw Kyle Higashioka made an appearance behind the plate in the final half-inning.

Canada’s lone run came on a Jared Young homer, but otherwise they were held in check by the American pitching. Coming off the Mexico game where US pitchers really struggled, Lance Lynn gave them a much-needed solid outing. He allowed one run on two hits in five innings, striking out six. Miles Mikolas threw scoreless frames in the sixth and seventh, wrapping up a dominant victory.

Today at the WBC:

Nicaragua vs. Venezuela
Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
Location: loanDepot Park, Miami

Canada vs. Colombia
Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Chase Field, Phoenix

Israel vs. Dominican Republic
Time: 7:00 p.m. ET
Location: loanDepot Park, Miami

Great Britain vs. Mexico
Time: 10:00 p.m. ET
Location: Chase Field, Phoenix