US routs Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic
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US routs Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic

American team pounds out 13 hits, finishing with a 6-2 record and soaring through championship round

The US team celebrates following an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final of the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The US team celebrates following an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico in the final of the World Baseball Classic in Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The eagle has landed on top.

The United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries on Wednesday night behind six hitless innings from Marcus Stroman.

The Americans planted their eagle statue mascot on the mound in celebration, a blue cap jauntily hanging from one of its large wings.

“It’s a different feeling when the USA is on your chest,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “We wanted to get the US back on top of the baseball world, and we did that.”

For a sport known as America’s pastime, the US had struggled since the WBC began in 2006. Twice, the Americans lost in the second round and they went out in the semifinals in 2009.

US catcher Jonathan Lucroy, left, greets pitcher Marcus Stroman in the sixth inning against Puerto Rico during the final of the World Baseball Classic. in Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
US catcher Jonathan Lucroy, left, greets pitcher Marcus Stroman in the sixth inning against Puerto Rico during the final of the World Baseball Classic. in Los Angeles, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

This time was different.

“These guys were here to do their best,” Team USA general manager Joe Torre said. “The thing I marveled at was how quickly they came together, and Jimmy (Leyland) deserves a lot of that credit. They’re just a great group who understood what this event is all about.”

Accepting the gleaming silver trophy from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Leyland told the crowd, “This is for the men and women who serve our country.”

After the final out, the Americans massed on the mound, hugging and high-fiving while fireworks exploded in center field. Some of them grabbed a US flag and circled the warning track, waving it in celebration with fans in the stands.

Puerto Rico’s fans saluted their team with a standing ovation and the players responded by clapping.

Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The US territory finished runner-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

People gather to watch television coverage of the World Baseball Classic final between Puerto Rico and the United States, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The United States won 8-0. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
People gather to watch television coverage of the World Baseball Classic final between Puerto Rico and the United States, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. The United States won 8-0. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

Tournament MVP Stroman avenged his shakiness in the Americans’ 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays gave up one hit in six-plus innings, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan’s double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead with the help of Ian Kinsler’s two-run homer.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The US pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the US

The final out.Congrats David Robertson, Nate Jones and USA Baseball! #ForGlory

Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on before their team fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting “U-S-A” when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford’s two-run single that chased J.C. Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The US tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton’s RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

Infielder Cody Decker #14 of Israel holds team mascot 'The Mensch on a Bench' after the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between the Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images via JTA)
Infielder Cody Decker #14 of Israel holds team mascot ‘The Mensch on a Bench’ after the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between the Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images via JTA)

The Americans defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

The tournament also saw a surprise run from one Middle Eastern squad: Israel entered the tournament as heavy underdogs, surprising the world, and its namesake country, by going undefeated in the first round and beating Cuba in the second round, becoming the WBC’s unlikely darlings.

Consecutive losses to the Netherlands and Japan, though, proved too much to overcome, and the team was forced to hang up its gloves without a trip to the championship rounds in Los Angeles.

Joshua Davidovitch contributed to this report.

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