Reyes sets tone for DR's Classic title victory

Reyes sets tone for DR's Classic title victory

SAN FRANCISCO -- After smashing the third pitch of the game high off the right-field wall and flying into second base with a head-first slide, Jose Reyes leapt to his feet and pumped his arms in the air. The shortstop from the Dominican Republic was signaling his unbridled excitement to teammates in the home dugout, who reciprocated joyously.

Though he had hit doubles deep to right before -- many times -- this instant was different, as was his reaction.

That's because this was no ordinary game. And what the rest of the world didn't know was who Reyes saw when he looked into the dugout.

"When I hit that double in the first inning, the first thing that came through my mind was I was going to pull not just my team [to victory], but the whole Dominican Republic was in front of me," Reyes said after his team's 3-0 victory over Puerto Rico completed an undefeated run through the World Baseball Classic. "I can't even describe this feeling right now."

That feeling was the euphoria the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop felt in winning his nation's first Classic championship on Tuesday night at AT&T Park.

Reyes had a 2-for-4 night, adding a triple in the seventh that led him to throw up his arms in jubilation and flash the famous Reyes smile.

The man who chased down that drive, Puerto Rico center fielder Angel Pagan, said he understood what the moment means to Reyes.

"Jose Reyes, that's his personality," Pagan said as he watched the Dominican team celebrate its Classic championship under both rain and confetti in San Francisco. "I played with him for four years [with the New York Mets] and he's always been that way. And that's something that projects into the team and it really helps."

For the tournament, Reyes hit .314 with 17 total bases, second only to Classic Most Valuable Player Robinson Cano. His inspired play set the tone from the leadoff position in the batting order as well as his influence in the clubhouse.

"When Jose got to second base the first time, he reached over and put the fists up way high," said Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena. "That was telling the other guys, 'Let's go. Get me home.'"

Reyes has played for the Dominican Republic team in all three World Baseball Classic tournaments, and is elated that after falling short twice, this team was able to show the world the baseball dominance of the Caribbean island nation.

"This is the third Classic," Reyes said after the victory. "Thank God we're finally able to accomplish what everyone wanted and expected of the D.R., which was a trophy as champions."

After the postgame celebration and trophy presentation, just before the start of a press conference, Reyes was handed a cell phone from Pena. Danilo Medina, president of the Dominican Republic, wanted to offer his congratulations and appreciation for what Reyes and his team accomplished for the country.

"He just wanted to say congratulations for the ... job we did, and we appreciate that from the president," Reyes said. "This win is all about the Dominican Republic."

Reyes is a four-time All Star. He has won a batting title, led the National League in stolen bases three times and triples four times. But after dealing with high expectations with the Mets and Miami Marlins, and after the disappointments in the first two Classics, Reyes is a champion.

"This is an unforgettable moment," he said, "having taken the D.R.'s name and shown the world what we're capable of ...

"This is one of the greatest moments of my career and my life."

Manny Randhawa is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.