Team USA Advances to the Quarterfinals, Defeats Colombia 3-2 in Pool Play Finale

U.S. bullpen tosses six innings of shutout baseball to clinch spot in quarterfinal
  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
USA 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3 7 0
Colombia 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 6  0


PHOENIX, Ariz.Mike Trout hit the go-ahead single in the top of the fifth and the bullpen combined to toss six innings of scoreless relief as Team USA beat Colombia, 3-2, on Wednesday night at Chase Field. With the win, the U.S. advances to the World Baseball Classic quarterfinal round on Saturday night in Miami, Florida.

The U.S. has now advanced out of pool play in all five editions of the World Baseball Classic, joining Japan and Puerto Rico as the only nations to accomplish the feat.

Trailing by a run in the top of the fifth, the U.S. (3-1) used heads-up baserunning and clutch hitting to retake the lead. Will Smith drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a wild pitch before Mookie Betts singled and took second on the throw to put two in scoring position for Trout with one out. Just as he did on Monday night, Trout delivered, roping a two-run single to left to put Team USA in front 3-2. It was one of three hits for Trout on the night, who went 4-for-6 with six RBIs and two walks over the last two games.

The U.S. bullpen held Colombia (1-3) scoreless over the final six innings to secure the stars and stripes’ spot in the quarterfinals. Colombia mustered just two hits off Team USA’s relievers, who struck out nine batters. All seven relief pitchers recorded at least one strikeout, including Jason Adam, who struck out the side in the seventh. Ryan Pressly (1) entered in the ninth and worked around a two-out infield single to record the save.

Both sides exchanged zeroes over the first two innings on Wednesday. The U.S. threatened immediately in the top of the first when Trout hit a one-out triple and Paul Goldschmidt walked, but Colombia starter Luis De Avila induced an inning-ending double play to get out of the jam.

Team USA starter Merrill Kelly tossed a perfect opening frame before escaping trouble in the second. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out for Colombia, but Kelly got the next two batters to pop out and ground out to get out of the inning unscathed.

The U.S. cracked the scoreboard in the top of the third, picking up back-to-back hits with two outs. Betts started the rally, working a six-pitch at-bat before singling to right field and advancing to second on a wild pitch. Trout then continued his tear by finding an open space in the shift for a single to plate Betts and give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

Colombia responded with a pair of runs in the bottom of the third, and both teams went down quietly in the fourth inning before Trout’s two-run knock put the red, white, and blue in front by a run in the fifth. Trout’s single gave him three RBIs for the second consecutive game, making him the first U.S. player to drive in three or more runs in back-to-back World Baseball Classic games.

The top of the order paced the U.S. offense on Wednesday. Betts (2-for-4, 2 R) and Trout (3-for-4, 3 RBIs) set the tone for the stars and stripes, accounting for more than half of the team’s hits. Nolan Arenado (1-for-4) and Trea Turner (1-for-3) were the only other players to register a hit for Team USA.

Kelly got the start for the United States, tossing three innings and allowing a pair of runs. The bullpen was nearly perfect over the final six frames, combining for nine strikeouts. Kendall Graveman (1-0) entered in the fourth and pitched a scoreless inning to earn the win. Adam struck out the side in the seventh, while Devin Williams punched out a pair in his perfect eighth. Daniel Bard and David Bednar also turned in scoreless frames in relief before Pressly entered in the ninth to seal the victory.

Team USA will take on Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinal round on Saturday at loanDepot Park in Miami, Florida. The game will be nationally televised on FOX, with first pitch set for 7:00 p.m. ET.