09/22/12 11:19 PM ET
Spain routs South Africa to reach qualifier final
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
Spain jumped all over South Africa's pitching staff early, scoring four runs and batting around in the second and third innings. Spain will get a rematch against Israel at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, looking to avenge Friday's 4-2 loss and advance into the Classic's main tournament in March.
Sunday's game can be watched live on worldbaseballclassic.com.
"We were aggressive. We had good ABs. We took advantage of some errors that they made," Spanish manager Mauro Mazzotti said. "When you score a lot with big innings early, it makes it easier for pitchers. For the other team, it's a little pressure because it's do-or-die, you win or you go home. I think when we scored four and came back and scored four again, the game was done."
South Africa, having won its first game at the Classic earlier Saturday in a rain-delayed, two-day triumph over France, was eliminated.
Manager Rick Magnante admitted he was running out of veteran pitchers for the Spain game, as the team did everything possible to pick up its first win against France, but noted that the victory was "crucial in terms of the development and the morale of this program."
"We needed that win to get to where we were. We played a very experienced, international team here," Magnante added. "We got our first WBC win, and I hope we can keep that as a positive coming out of this. We tried to take some positives out of it, and I think we did. We gave some guys some exposure and some visibility and an experience."
South Africa starer Keiran Lovegrove breezed through a 1-2-3 first inning, but ran into all kinds of trouble in the second, giving up two hits, two walks, hitting two batters and recording only one out.
Yasser Gomez, who went 4-for-5 with three RBI singles, drove in two runs with a single to center, and the final two runs of the inning scored on a bases-loaded walk and hit by pitch. Lovegrove, the Indians' third-round Draft pick this year, was charged with four runs in 1 1/3 innings, and the rest of South Africa's staff didn't fare much better.
Right-hander Jared Elario came on in relief of Lovegrove and surrendered four runs, two of them earned, on three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings.
Gomez picked up another RBI single, and Jesus Golindano legged out a triple to drive in two more runs later in the inning. Adrian Nieto made it 9-0 with an RBI double in the fourth, but South Africa negated that run in the bottom of the inning when Shannon Ekermans doubled home Jonathan Phillips.
That unearned run was the only one allowed by Spain starter Ricardo Hernandez, who gave up two hits and two walks while striking out four over five innings of work.
South Africa tacked on two runs in the sixth, but Gomez drove in Nieto in the eighth with his third RBI single of the game. Spain added a two-run double by pinch-hitter Blake Ochoa and another run on a sacrifice fly by Yunesky Sanchez in the ninth.
That finished off a dominant performance for Spain, which will once again have only a few hours to prepare for Israel, a showdown that will determine who moves on to the main tournament and who goes home empty-handed.
"I think the game today gave us confidence, confidence that we can play against everybody and that we have a good chance to beat them," Mazzotti said.
"These guys all put a team together, and it was to win it," Nieto said. "Getting to the finals definitely wouldn't be enough. Our goal here is to win it."