Stanton's Homer, Jones' Leap Carry US Into WBC Semifinals

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The World Baseball Classic took a break yesterday, and it felt odd to have the hiatus after two weeks of games.

This particular giant, though, was about to be rousted from an extended snooze. Whatever the pros and cons of statehood, the Puerto Rican baseball players hope that they can continue to represent their island.

Giancarlo Stanton's home run was measured at 117.3 miles per hour, the fourth-fastest exit velocity of the Statcast era.

But Clippard was left on the mound for one more batter, and Robinson Cano sent the ball deep to left field. On Tuesday, March 21, US plays Japan in the other semifinal. Manager Jim Leyland appreciates those who did sign up. "I like a homer (producer) late in the lineup".

The Dominican Republic, the reigning champs after winning all eight of its games in 2013, took a 2-0 lead in the first inning Saturday but could not keep pace with the US. Carlos Santana singled in Cano.

Puerto Rico is a territory of the US but competes as its own country in worldwide sports. Dominican Republic showdown - a rematch of their memorable Pool A matchup in Miami on March 11, when the Dominicans stormed back from a 5-0 deficit in the sixth inning to win 7-5 as both Nelson Cruz and Starling Marte homered in the bottom of the eighth off Cleveland Indians bullpen ace Andrew Miller.

Stanton set the tone with a two-run home run that reached the second deck of Petco's Western Metal Supply building on a line drive.

No word yet if the structure, a repeated victim during his landslide win at the Derby, plans to take out a restraining order. Those numbers suddenly felt more relevant than the 1-for-14 mark against Dominican pitcher Ervin Santana that vanished into the San Diego night.

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Lugo, going 5 2/3 innings, kept USA's offense in check by yielding five hits and three runs. Christian Yelich's two-out double tied the game 2-2. The screaming line drive Saturday that gave the US the lead for good loudly announced he plans to be a factor as the tournament motors 125 miles up the Pacific coast.

"There were a lot of people that respectfully declined and we're not going to throw anybody under the bus", Leyland said.

A pair of Miami Marlins are playing a big part in the success of Team USA.

The U.S. has yet to make it as far as the title game in WBC play.

Jones covered so much ground, leapt so high and concentrated so much that even a fan wearing a Yankees cap who inadvertently pawed at his glove-side wrist failed to rattle the ball loose.

It might have been a different outcome if Manny Machado's 400-foot hit to center field in the previous at-bat had sailed a couple of inches longer. Jones tipped his in return. It will be a disappointment if this team leaves Los Angeles next week without a championship.

The Indians' LHP Andrew Miller is a reliever for United States of America, which has not finished higher than fourth in the three previous WBCs. Dominican Republic and all remaining World Baseball Classic games stream live online. The respective scheduled starts are 9 p.m.

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