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Aybar's heads-up play keeps PR from first strike

Aybar's heads-up play keeps PR from first strike

Two days after driving in the go-ahead run in the Dominican Republic's 3-1 victory over Team USA, Dominican shortstop Erick Aybar made another big-time play in Saturday's World Baseball Classic second-round game against Puerto Rico at Marlins Park. The D.R went on to win, 2-0.

Both teams were scoreless in the third inning before Puerto Rico's Carlos Rivera knocked the game's first hit, a single, off Dominican starter Wandy Rodriguez. Irving Falu entered to pinch-run for Rivera and promptly stole second and advanced to third when catcher Carlos Santana's throw went into the outfield.

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Andy Gonzalez struck out, bringing the Dominican Republic infield in with Falu on third and one out. Jesus Feliciano grounded to Aybar at shortstop, who quickly threw home to Santana.

Aybar's throw easily nabbed Falu, who didn't even attempt to slide.

Puerto Rico's Angel Pagan followed with a flyout to right field, ending the inning and the threat.

Aybar also made a heads-up play in the eighth on a fielder's-choice grounder, helping quell a Puerto Rico rally by getting Martin Maldonado at third for the inning's second out.

Puerto Rico will play Japan at AT&T Park on Sunday and unbeaten D.R. (6-0) will face the Kingdom of the Netherlands on Monday in the Classic semifinals. Both games are at 9 p.m. ET.

Cash Kruth is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @cashkruth. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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