Mexico rebounds, ousts South Africa
First baseman A. Gonzalez hits two of team's four home runs
MEXICO CITY -- Playing on a team full of Major League talent was supposed to lighten the load for Adrian Gonzalez.
But it was Gonzalez who singlehandedly helped Mexico fend off elimination from the World Baseball Classic and defeat South Africa, 14-3, on Monday night at Foro Sol Stadium.
"After [Sunday's] game, we went home feeling rather stiff, rather down," Gonzalez said. "But having lost [Sunday], it helped us realize that we can't just walk in and think we've got it made. It helped for us to think that we can begin to win."
Gonzalez went 3-for-4 with two home runs and six RBIs and set the table for Mexico's 10 p.m. ET game on Wednesday against the loser of Tuesday's game between Australia and Cuba.
His RBI double in the top of the first inning gave Mexico a 1-0 lead, though it came without much laboring.
South Africa pitcher Justin Erasmus walked leadoff batter Jerry Hairston Jr. and later, on a pickoff attempt with Hairston on second, threw wide to allow Hairston to advance to third.
South Africa battled back, however, knotting the score at 1 in the bottom of the first inning. Second baseman Gift Ngoepe tripled to center field over the head of Hairston and scored on a fielder's choice hit by Jonathan Phillips.
Ngoepe hit another triple in the third inning, this time for an RBI, to pull South Africa within 3-2. But South Africa's hits were no match for Mexico's slugging first baseman.
Gonzalez belted a two-run home run in the top of the third into right field. His second shot, a three-run homer in the top of the eighth inning, landed in nearly an identical location.
Mexico stretched its lead in the seventh, taking advantage of miscues made by South Africa. Pitcher Alessio Angelucci walked Jorge Cantu with the bases loaded and first baseman Brett Willemburg made an errant throw home that allowed an additional two runs, giving Mexico a 6-2 lead.
Starter Elmer Dessens pitched six innings, allowing three hits and two runs (one earned) and said he doesn't have a preference for Mexico's next opponent on Wednesday night.
"We can't think about it," Dessens said. "We'll do our best, whether it's Cuba or Australia."
Christopher Ramirez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.