How this Pirate helped make Classic history

March 16th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Justice delos Santos’ Pirates Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, will forever own a slice of World Baseball Classic history.

Underwood may not have known it at the time, but when he retired the side in the top of the eighth inning of Puerto Rico’s eventual 10-0 win over Israel, the 28-year-old recorded the final three outs of an unofficial perfect game, capping off one of the most complete performances in the tournament’s history.

“Anytime you’re part of something like that that’s history, I think it’s really neat,” said Pirates manager Derek Shelton.

In a normal game, Puerto Rico would’ve had to record three more outs in the ninth inning to cap off the perfecto, but when drove in a run in the bottom of the eighth, Puerto Rico achieved victory via the Classic’s mercy rule. Official perfect games and no-hitters must last at least nine innings, but semantics don’t take away from the gravity of the moment. 

“It’s a dream come true, man,” Underwood said prior to the tournament. “I can remember being a little younger and watching the Classic. Being on that world stage, it’s an honor and a blessing. To be able to represent my family and the country of Puerto Rico will be a really great experience.”

Underwood, who has retired all nine batters he's faced across three appearances, isn’t the only member of the Pirates' organization who is impressing during the Classic.

has thrown two scoreless innings in two appearances with four strikeouts. He struck out the side in the United States' first game of tournament play.

and combined to pitch 4 2/3 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and no walks in the Dominican Republic’s 10-0 win over Israel.

had five steals on five attempts for Great Britain, tying (Japan), (Japan) and (United States) for the most in a single tournament.

went 5-for-15 with a triple, two walks and three RBIs in four games for Chinese Taipei, which did not advance to the second round. 

Antwone Kelly, 19, pitched a scoreless inning for the Netherlands against Chinese Taipei. 

“The WBC is such a cool event, but for our players to be involved and watching [Contreras and Ortiz] pitch [on Tuesday], and watching Duane be part of [Puerto Rico's unofficial perfecto], I think it’s really kind of special,” Shelton said.