Captain America Mike Trout powers USA into World Baseball quarters
MIAMI: US skipper Mike Trout scored three runs as the US beat Colombia 3-2 on Wednesday to reach the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic.
Los Angeles Angels outfielder Trout — one of the figureheads of a star-studded U.S. lineup — knocked in singles in the third and fifth innings to send the U.S. into the last eight.
The Americans, who recovered after being upset by Mexico in their second Pool C game on Sunday, now face Venezuela in Miami on Friday, with Cuba awaiting the winner in the semifinals.
Colombia needed a big win against the hosts to have any chance of advancing on Wednesday, with Reynaldo Rodriguez doubling in off Jorge Alfaro to take a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. .
But Trout singled in the fifth inning to score Los Angeles Dodgers duo Will Smith and Mookie Betts to give USA a 3-2 lead.
Closer Ryan Presley then got the save in the ninth to seal the win.
American manager Mark DeRosa praised Trout’s game-winning shot by the Americans.
“One of the best players I’ve ever seen,” DeRosa said of Trout. “The way he’s able to swing the baseball bat … it was a huge knock for us. He couldn’t have been happier.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Puerto Rico set up a quarter-final clash with Pool C winners Mexico after a 5-2 victory over star-studded Dominican Republic.
The Dominican Republic was seen as one of the favorites for the tournament but was eliminated before the knockout round after a dominant performance by Puerto Rico at Miami’s LoanDepot Park.
Puerto Rico took control of the contest in the third inning, as Christian Vazquez homered off Johnny Cueto before Francisco Lindor and Enrique Hernandez drove in RBI singles. MJ Melendez then grounded out to score Lindor to give Puerto Rico a 4-0 lead.
San Diego Padres superstar Juan Soto led the Dominicans with a 448-foot homer over center field in the bottom of the third.
But Puerto Rico mounted a rare strike in the top of the fifth with an off-the-park home run from Lindor, the New York Mets’ shortstop speeding around the bases after a fielding error by center fielder Julio Rodriguez to make it 5-1. .
Puerto Rico’s victory celebration turned sour, but when Mets closer Edwin Diaz seriously injured his right knee, the players were dancing with joy after the win. Diaz was helped off the field before exiting in a wheelchair.
Puerto Rico’s quarter-final opponents Mexico, meanwhile, secured the top spot in Pool C by defeating Canada 10-3 in Phoenix earlier on Wednesday.
In Wednesday’s other game, Venezuela completed their perfect first-round campaign with a 5-1 win over Israel in Pool D in Miami to set up a last-eight date with the United States on Friday.