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Dominicans Stun United States in WBC, 3-1

Miami — Horns honked, percussion pulsed and school kids squealed. Miami can make quite a din when the Dominicans win.

The visiting team on the scoreboard, the Dominican Republic made itself at home by beating the United States 3-1 last night to earn a berth in the final round of the World Baseball Classic.

Pinch-hitter Erick Aybar singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth for the Dominicans, who improved to 5-0. They’re assured of a spot in the semifinals beginning Sunday in San Francisco, where two-time defending champion Japan and the Netherlands have already advanced.

The United States must now play Puerto Rico tonight, with the winner earning a trip to San Francisco and the loser being eliminated.

Playing the U.S. team for the first time ever in the WBC, the Dominicans drew raucous support all night, especially in a noisy ninth.

With the score 1-all, Nelson Cruz led off with a double against Craig Kimbrel (0-1), then took third on a groundout. Aybar singled sharply and ran to first with his index finger raised as his teammates poured out of the dugout to greet Cruz crossing the plate.

Until Aybar’s hit, the Dominicans were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.

Aybar stole second and scored on a two-out single by Jose Reyes.

Former Miami Marlin Hanley Ramirez silenced jeers from the crowd with a home run in the second inning for the other Dominican run.

Pedro Strop (3-0) pitched a scoreless eighth. Fernando Rodney, the fifth Dominican pitcher, followed with a perfect ninth to complete a six-hitter for his fourth save. He has yet to allow a hit in 41∕3 innings.

NFL Football

Chiefs Cut Cassel

Kansas City, Mo. — Matt Cassel’s rocky career in Kansas City came to an abrupt ending yesterday, when the Chiefs released their former starting quarterback with two years left on his contract.

The decision to cut ties with Cassel came one day after new general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid held a news conference to introduce Alex Smith, whom they landed in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers to be their quarterback of the future.

Hours later, Cassel reached an agreement to join the Minnesota Vikings as the backup for Christian Ponder, according to person with knowledge of the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.


High School
Coaching Great Dies

New York — Jack Curran spent more than a half century compiling records in high school basketball and baseball that likely won’t be toppled anytime soon. Perhaps never.

The 82-year-old coaching great from Archbishop Molloy High School died yesterday, the school said. He had been weakened by lung and kidney problems, undergoing dialysis three days a week the past few years. Still, he rarely missed a day at school, let alone a game or practice.

His record was 972-437 in basketball and 1,708-523 in baseball.

His former players included some of New York City’s biggest names in high school basketball — 1972 Olympian Kevin Joyce, Brian Winters, Kenny Smith, Kenny Anderson and Russ Smith, who was playing for Louisville yesterday in the Big East quarterfinals at Madison Square Garden.


Defending Champ Out

Indian Wells, Calif. — Defending champion Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open yesterday because of a right ankle injury that had been bothering the world’s second-ranked player since before the tournament began.

Azarenka was scheduled to play No. 8 seed Caroline Wozniacki in an afternoon quarterfinal that would have pitted two former top-ranked players against each other.

Earlier, No. 7 seed Sam Stosur pulled out of her quarterfinal against No. 4 Angelique Kerber because of a right calf injury.

Wozniacki and Kerber will move into a semifinal against each other. No. 2 Maria Sharapova and No. 13 Maria Kirilenko will play in the other semi.