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Puerto Rico pitches first-ever WBC perfect game in 10-0 rout of Israel

The game ended in mercy-rule fashion after just eight innings.
Puerto Rico's Francisco Lindor, rear, hugs teammate Enrique Hernandez after a World Baseball Classic win over Israel.
Posted at 1:09 PM, Mar 14, 2023

Puerto Rico baseball fans are rejoicing today after their national team achieved a historic — and seemingly impossible — feat in the World Baseball Classic, completing a perfect game with a walk-off hit in the eighth inning to beat Israel 10-0.

Monday night's game at LoanDepot Park in Miami was a crucial match in Pool C of the tournament, as both Puerto Rico and Israel were vying for a spot in the quarterfinals round.

Puerto Rico, the runners-up in the 2017 tournament, had high expectations coming into the game, but few — if any — expected an outcome like this one.

Puerto Rico's pitching was immaculate, with starter José De León and three relievers — Yacksel Ríos, Edwin Díaz and Duane Underwood Jr. — not allowing a single Israeli batter to reach base all game.

A perfect game is typically celebrated by the team that records the final out while playing the field. However, this time Puerto Rico was at-bat when the triumph commenced.

They were up 9-0 in the bottom of the eighth inning when a hit to left field from Kiké Hernández drove in Puerto Rico's 10th run of the game.

World Baseball Classic rules differ slightly from the MLB and a "Mercy Rule" takes effect if any team is up by 10 or more runs after seven innings. 

Therefore, Hernández’s single to left field that drove in Martin Maldonado effectively ended the game.

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Puerto Rico's starting pitcher De León tied a WBC record, retiring 10 of the 17 batters he faced in 5 2/3 innings. The right-hander was pulled before reaching the WBC's limit of 65 pitches per game in the first round. 

He exited to cheers from a largely-Puerto Rican crowdof over 27,000 and later was given a signed game ball from his teammates.

"I dreamt about a moment like this," De León said after the game. "After all the setbacks I faced, I deserved this type of moment. I wanted to let the public know I am here to stay and also show the world that José De León still can compete."

“It is a great moment for all of us but especially for him,” Puerto Rico manager Yadier Molina said, "with his family being here and what he has gone through in his career. I’m very happy with his outing. I know José very well and have worked with him. He deserves all of this.”

The win propelled Puerto Rico into second place in their pool with just one game left to play before the quarterfinals begin later this week.

The top two teams from each pool advances to the next round, extending their path for the title of world champions.

Here are the standings as of Tuesday morning: 

Pool A - Taichung, Taiwan

*Cuba 2-2

*Italy 2-2

Netherlands 2-2

Panama 2-2

Chinese Taipei 2-2

Pool B - Tokyo

*Japan 4-0

*Australia 3-1

Korea 2-2

Czech Republic 1-3

China 0-4

Pool C - Phoenix

USA 2-1

Canada 1-1

Colombia 1-1

Mexico 1-1

Great Britain 1-2

Pool D - Miami

Venezuela 2-0

Puerto Rico 2-1

Dominican Republic 1-1

Israel 1-1

Nicaragua 0-3

* - Team has advanced to the quarterfinals