MIAMI — Four pitchers for Team Puerto Rico combined on a perfect game against Israel in the pool-play round of the World Baseball Classic on Monday night, retiring all 24 hitters in a mercy-rule-shortened 10-0 victory.
After 5.2 sparkling innings by starting Jose De Leon, reliever Yacksel Rios recorded a strikeout and manager Yadier Molina turned to closer Edwin Diaz to lock down the top of the seventh inning with the score 9-0. When Puerto Rico didn’t score in the bottom of the seventh, Duane Underwood Jr. needed only 10 pitches to retire Israel in the top of the eight.
Puerto Rico then scored a run in the bottom of the eight with a walk, hit-by-pitch and Enrique Hernandez single for the oddest sort of walk-off win. WBC rules end games when teams trail by 15 after five innings or are down 10 runs following the seventh inning or later.
Officially, the game was announced as a no-hitter, as perfect games are defined as games without a baserunner for a full nine innings. It was the WBC’s first hitless game since 18-year-old Shairon Martis threw seven no-hit innings for the Netherlands against Panama in the first year of the tournament, 2006.
The teams’ fortunes the previous day were diametrically opposed. Israel, made up mostly of players in affiliated baseball of Jewish descent, had a dramatic come-from-behind win against Nicaragua that almost ensures it won’t be relegated from the next Classic. Puerto Rico, meanwhile, lost 9-6 to Venezuela, a defeat that makes its game Wednesday against a powerful Dominican Republic team must-win to advance from the tournament’s group of death, Pool D, to the quarterfinals.