Win and you’re in, it was that simple for Team USA as they got set to take on Columbia in the final game of Pool play on Wednesday Night. With a win, the Americans would take second place in the group and move on to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic.
Before this game, my head instantly turned to the 2022 FIFA World Cup where the USMNT had to beat Iran to move out of the group stage. With Christian Pulisic and Matt Turner leading the way, the US took down the Iranians 1-0 to advance to the knockout round.
If the American Baseball Team wants to move on to Miami, they’ll have to find some magic that the Soccer team found in Qatar last year.
Much like last night, It looked like the Americans were going to get on the board in the first inning after Mike Trout roped a one-out triple into the gap. However, following a Paul Goldschmidt walk, Nolan Arenado bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the threat.
With everything on the line, Team USA turned to D-Backs star Merrill Kelly to try to give them a solid start in his home ballpark. Kelly needed just ten pitches to cruise through the first inning but the second was not the same. Columbia loaded the bases with just one out but Kelly was able to get a pop-out and a ground-out to wiggle out of the jam and keep the game scoreless through two.
The top of the third would be when the US broke though! After two quick outs, Mookie Betts laced a single into right and would advance to second on a wild pitch. Then, Captain America Mike Trout would come through huge with a two-out RBI single to put the Stars and Stripes up 1-0.
The top of the third inning was when the Columbians would make their move. Oscar Mercado would hit a leadoff double and come home on a sac fly to tie things at one. Then, with two outs Jorge Alfaro hit a single off of Trea Turner’s glove and then scored from first on a double that was hit high off the wall by Reynaldo Rodriguez to give Columiba a 2-1 lead and put the American fans on the edge of their seats.
It wouldn’t take the feisty Americans long to take the lead right back. Will Smith led off the top of the fifth inning with a single into left field and would advance to second on a wild pitch. When the lineup flipped and Mookie Betts came up, he singled and advanced to second for his second base hit of the night. All of the sudden, two runners were in scoring position for Captain America Mike Trout. The face of baseball would come through once again for his third hit of the night, this one a two-RBI single to give Team USA a 3-2 lead.
The American bullpen was looking sharp through the middle innings! Kendal Graveman, Daniel Bard, and David Bednar each pitched scoreless frames allowing just one hit to keep the US up 3-2 through six innings.
The back end of the American pen was just as elite. Jason Adam struck out the side in the 7th and Devin Williams came on to pitch a perfect 8th.
With the US not picking up any insurance runs it would be a one-run lead that Ryan Pressly would have to come in to protect.
He would do just that as Team USA would pick up a 3-2 win over Columbia to advance to Miami for the Quarterfinals. The Americans will take on Team Venezuela in the quarterfinals on Saturday.