Image credit: Julio Rodriguez (Photo by Tom DiPace)
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla.—Julio Rodriguez hit two home runs, Luis Liberato added a three-run shot and the Dominican Republic beat Nicaragua, 13-3, on Wednesday to advance to the Super Round of the Americas Qualifier. The game was called in the eighth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule.
The Dominican Republic finished in second place in Pool A and will face Venezuela, the Pool B winner, on Friday. Nicaragua was eliminated from Olympic contention with the loss.
Rodriguez gave the Dominicans a 2-1 lead with a towering two-run homer to left-center in the bottom of the first inning off Nicaragua starter Elias Gutierrez. The No. 3 prospect on the BA Top 100 added a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning off reliever Harvin Talavera that cleared the bar on the elevated platform beyond the left-field fence at Clover Park.
Rodriguez’s two homers paced a 15-hit attack for the Dominicans. Fellow Mariners prospect Liberato hit an opposite-field three-run homer down the left-field line in the fifth, Royals prospect Jeison Guzman hit a two-run double off the wall in left-center and Yefri Perez, a former Marlins prospect, hit a two-out homer in the seventh to go back-to-back with Rodriguez.
Juan Francisco led off the eighth with a mammoth blast that cleared the batter’s eye in center field, the fifth and final home run of the game for the Dominican Republic.
Rodriguez finished 3-for-5, Guzman went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and Liberato went 2-for-5 with two runs scored. Dario Alvarez picked up the win with two scoreless innings of relief.
Giants prospect Ismael Munguia went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored for Nicaragua. Gutierrez took the loss after allowing five runs in three innings.
The four-team Super Round field is now set with Team USA, Canada, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The team with the best record at the conclusion of the Super Round will be declared the winner and earn a berth to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The second- and third-place teams will advance to the final qualifier in Mexico on June 22-26 for one last shot at qualifying for the Olympics.
Cuba, Colombia, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico have been eliminated from Olympic contention.
Cuba finished 1-2 and Cololmbia finished 0-3 in the qualifier. Both were eliminated from Olympic contention before the game began.
Jeter Downs went 1-for-3 with a solo homer to lead Colombia.