World Baseball Classic uproar as Mexico eliminated

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Sergio Romo of Mexico pitches in the bottom of the sixth inning during their World Baseball Classic Pool D game against Venezuela, at Panamericano Stadium in Zapopan, Mexico, on March 12, 2017

The World Baseball Classic erupted in controversy on Monday after Mexico were eliminated from the competition after an unsuccessful protest over a rules mix-up.

Mexico believed they had done enough to earn a place in Monday's play-off against Italy for a second round berth after upsetting Venezuela 11-9 in a nail-biting battle late on Sunday.

However Mexico were informed early Monday by World Baseball Classic organizers that Venezuela would in fact advance to the play-off against the Italians.

The decision hinged on a key ruling regarding average runs conceded per inning in head-to-head group play.

Mexico had conceded an average 1.12 runs per inning; Venezuela 1.11 and Italy 1.05.

However news of the rule interpretation infuriated Mexican players and officials who claimed they had been given contrary advice before Sunday's game.

Both the official Twitter accounts of the World Baseball Classic and Major League Baseball stated that Mexico would advance to Monday's tiebreaker with Italy. Both posts were later deleted.

Mexico's Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez took to Twitter to vent his fury at the blunder.

"We were told before the game if we win by two, we play tomorrow (Monday)," Gonzalez wrote, criticizing the methodology that saw Venezuela advance to the playoff instead of Mexico.

"We win by two and lose by one, Venezuela loses by 2 and wins by 1? Way to set up a tournament," Gonzalez added, directing barbs at Major League Baseball.

"Looks like some rules makers cannot go by their own rules," he wrote.

To add insult to injury, Venezuela later took full advantage of their reprieve to defeat Italy 4-3 and squeeze into the second round.

The Italians edged into a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first when Chicago Cubs prospect John Andreoli scampered home after Daniel Descalso's single.

Venezuela then leveled in the top of the sixth inning with Ender Inciarte singling to right field.

Italy regained the lead though in the seventh with Andreoli's home run. That was cancelled out in the top of the ninth though by Miguel Cabrera's homer, and Venezuela soon went 4-2 ahead thanks to runs from Rougned Odor and Yangervis Solarte.