The much-anticipated heavyweight fight between Team USA and the Dominican Republic drew a capacity crowd of 37,446 on Saturday night, setting a new attendance record for a baseball game at Marlins Park.A crowd unlike any other at the 6-year-old park leaned heavily toward the visitors, creating a fiesta-like atmosphere from
The much-anticipated heavyweight fight between Team USA and the Dominican Republic drew a capacity crowd of 37,446 on Saturday night, setting a new attendance record for a baseball game at Marlins Park.
A crowd unlike any other at the 6-year-old park leaned heavily toward the visitors, creating a fiesta-like atmosphere from well before first pitch until closer Jeurys Familia recorded the final out in the Dominicans' 7-5, come-from-behind victory against the "host" Americans.
"All the guys knew that this park was full and it was full of Dominicans," Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said after the game. "We were all aware of that."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
The Pool C showdown, part of the opening round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, broke the previous Marlins Park attendance record of 37,116 set on Opening Day of the 2014 season, when the Marlins hosted the Rockies. An estimated 27,388 people attended the Dominicans' 9-2 victory against Team Canada in the Pool C opener on Thursday. The ballpark had exceeded crowds of at least 36,600 only four times before Saturday, according to the Miami Herald.
The crowd was quieted early when Team USA jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but it slowly built back to a fever pitch by the time Nelson Cruz and Starling Marte homered in the eighth to give the Dominicans a two-run lead they would ride to the finish.
"The simple fact of playing, it already motivated you," Cruz said of the comeback, "because the fans never left the game, and I know that there are many people who traveled from many parts of the Dominican Republic and from the United States just to watch this game.
"I'm always thanking God that he gave us the opportunity for them to leave happy, that their trip was worth it."
When Familia recorded the final out a half-inning later, the party was on -- as if the game had been played in Santo Domingo.
"It's a bit strange, because we are so far away from our country," Pena said of the friendly atmosphere. "We are the home club away from home."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.