10:31 PM ET
MIAMI — They had rallied all the way back, erasing an early four-run deficit, but if Mexico was to advance to its first World Baseball Classic semifinal and eliminate a star-studded Puerto Rico team, another big play needed to be made.
Randy Arozarena, of course, delivered it.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the eighth inning of Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup, Arozarena raced near the left-center-field fence and made an improbable leaping catch up against it, erasing what would have been a game-tying extra-base hit and helping Mexico, his adopted home country, hold on to a 5-4 victory in front of a sellout crowd at LoanDepot Park.
Arozarena became a household name while dominating throughout the 2020 postseason. When his Tampa Bay Rays reached the World Series, he provided three home runs. Arozarena was reminded of that late Friday night and was asked to identify his best moment on a baseball field.
“2023, World Baseball Classic, eighth inning, that catch,” he said in Spanish, drawing a laugh from a packed interview room.
Arozarena, 28, was born and raised in Cuba. He left the island in 2015 and arrived in Mexico, where he played winter ball, had a daughter and fell in