Mariners prospects help Dominicans advance in OLY qualifying

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) — Seattle Mariners prospects Julio Rodriguez and Luis Liberato hit early home runs, and the Dominican Republic coasted to a 13-3 rout of Nicaragua on Wednesday and a berth in the super round of the Americas Olympic qualifying tournament.

Rodriguez homered twice and drove in three runs, combining with Yefri Perez for back-to-back home runs in the seventh. Former major leaguer Juan Francisco added a solo homer in the eighth.

Dario Álvarez, also a former big leaguer, won with two hitless innings of relief.

The Dominicans (2-1) advanced along with the United States (2-0), Venezuela (3-0) and Canada (2-1) to the super round on Friday and Saturday. Head-to-head results of teams advancing from the first round will carry over.

The top team from the super round joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualifier in June in Mexico, which will include Australia, Netherlands and Taiwan.

Rodriguez, who plays for High-A Everett, hit a two-run homer in the first off Elias Gutierrez following a leadoff walk by Emilio Bonifacio, putting the Dominicans ahead 2-1.

Liberato, who is at Triple-A Tacoma, hit a three-run homer that increased the lead to 5-1 in the third.

The United States’ game against Puerto Rico, which has no implication on the super round, was rained out and rescheduled for Thursday.

Venezuela beat Canada 5-0 at West Palm Beach in a game that will carry over to the super round standings. Washington Nationals prospect Ramón Flores and Texas Rangers prospect Yonny Hernandez hit run-scoring singles in the second, Oakland’s Carlos Pérez hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Juniel Querecuto homered in the seventh.

Boston Red Sox prospect Oddanier Mosqueda pitched two hitless innings for the win.

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