Ranking the five best moments of the 2017 World Baseball Classic – CBSSports.com

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Wednesday night,
the United States was crowned the winner of the 2017 World Baseball Classic
. They bested Puerto Rico in a one-sided championship game to win their first WBC title.

The 2017 WBC featured 40 games across three weeks, not including the four qualifying pools last year. The majority of those 40 games were close — only 17 of the 40 were decided by more than three runs — and they brought us some truly incredibly moments.
I’m not sure how anyone could not enjoy the WBC after these last three weeks

We here at CBS Sports put our collective heads together to come up with the five best moments of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which was not easy. I’m sure you’ll disagree with our subjective rankings, so tell us about it in the comments or on social media. To the list!

5. Bautista throws Mercado out at the plate.

Although they went 1-2 and were ousted in the first round, Colombia showed the world something during the WBC.
They’re starting to emerge as a baseball power
. They beat Canada, and in their two losses, they pushed the heavily-favored Dominican Republic and USA to extra innings.

Colombia had a chance to walk-off with a win over the Dominican Republic when
Reynaldo Rodriguez
lifted a would-be sac fly to left field in the bottom of the ninth.
Jose Bautista
had other ideas. He threw
Oscar Mercado
out at the plate to keep the Dominican Republic alive.

Mercado was clearly out at the plate, and several Colombian players were ejected after arguing the play. Emotions were running pretty high and the umpire felt they crossed the line.

The Dominican Republic would go on to win the game 10-3 in 11 innings thanks in part to the extra-inning tiebreaker rules.

4. Italy stuns Mexico with five-run ninth.

In their very first game of the WBC, Italy trailed Mexico 9-5 and were set to face closer
Roberto Osuna
in the ninth inning. A daunting task, indeed. Amazingly, Osuna and veteran left-hander
Oliver Perez
failed to record a single out. Five hits, one walk, and one error allowed Italy to rally for five runs and the 10-9 walk-off win.

That ninth inning would go on to hurt Mexico later in the WBC as well. Italy, Venezuela, and Mexico were all 1-2 after three games in Pool D, and the convoluted WBC tiebreaker rules are based on runs allowed per defensive inning.
Why not run differential
? Who knows.

For whatever reason, Mexico was charged with the five runs allowed in that ninth inning against Italy, but they were not credited with a defensive inning because no out was recorded. They were charged with 28 runs across 25 defensive innings (1.12 R/DI) rather than 28 runs across 26 defensive innings (1.08 R/DI), which was enough to drop them below Venezuela (1.11 R/DI). Italy and Venezuela met in the tiebreaker game and Mexico went home. Ouch.

3. Baez celebrates while applying a tag.

In the second round Puerto Rico became the first team to beat the Dominican Republic since way back in the 2009 WBC. The Dominican Republic went a perfect 8-0 en route to winning the 2013 WBC, and they started the 2017 WBC with three straight wins.

Puerto Rico was nursing a 3-1 lead in the eighth inning, but of course the high-powered Dominican Republic lineup was applying pressure.
Adrian Beltre
was at the plate representing the tying run when, for some reason,
Nelson Cruz
attempted to steal second against
Yadier Molina
. Someone had to misread a sign, right?

Anyway, Molina threw Cruz out by a mile, because Molina is a great thrower and Cruz isn’t all that fast. What made the play great was
Javier Baez
, who pointed to Molina and celebrated the clutch out before he even caught the throw and applied the tag to Cruz. Here’s the video:

That might be my favorite silly baseball moment since
Manny Ramirez
made a running catch in Baltimore and jumped to high-five a fan. That play is everything that is right about the WBC. Great players representing their country, and doing it with a little flair as well.

2. Cruz completes the Dominican Republic’s comeback.

Along with Japan, the Dominican Republic and USA are baseball’s international powerhouses. Their talent bases are so incredibly deep, which is why they’re the among the favorites going into the WBC each time around.

The Dominican Republic and USA met twice in the 2017 WBC. In the first round, USA built a seemingly comfortable 5-0 lead before the Dominican Republic started to chip away. The game’s big blow was Cruz’s go-ahead three-run home run against
Andrew Miller
in the eighth inning. Listen to this mid March baseball crowd:

Seattle Mariners
figure to be pretty good this season, but it’s entirely possible Cruz won’t hit a bigger home run all year. The Dominican Republic reasserted themselves as the WBC’s dominant team with that blast, and they went on to win the game 7-5.

USA got the last laugh, however. They beat the Dominican Republic in a winner-take-all game in the second round. USA moved on to the semifinals while the Dominican Republic went home.

1. Jones robs Machado of a home run.

Could it be anything else? We’re going to see this play on highlight reels for years to come.

During that winner-take-all game between USA and the Dominican Republic in the second round, the Americans were again nursing a lead in the late innings, and again the Dominican Republic was threatening to tie the game.
Manny Machado
started the seventh inning with a would-be home run that would have cut USA’s lead to 4-3, but
Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones
leaped to take away the homer in dead center field. What a play this was:

USA went on to win that game 6-3 to advance to the semifinals, but gosh, this one felt a lot closer than the final score indicates. The Dominican Republic had a powerhouse lineup capable of exploding at any time. Then Jones flew in like Superman to save the day.

Honorable Mention: 
Giancarlo Stanton
gives USA the lead against the Dominican Republic (video);
Carlos Correa
ties the game against the Netherlands (video); Molina picks
Jurickson Profar
off first while he celebrates single (video);
Eddie Rosario
Jean Segura
 out at the plate (video); Jones walks it off against Colombia (video); Israel upsets South Korea to begin Cinderella run (video)