World Baseball Classic Day 4: Japan, Australia take huge step towards quarterfinals. First loss for Netherlands. Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia and USA all win

World Baseball Classic Day 4: Japan, Australia take huge step towards quarterfinals. First loss for Netherlands. Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Colombia and USA all win
In Group A, Yu Chang's grand slam took Chinese Taipei past the Netherlands and strong pitching helped Panama shut out Italy. In Group B, Australia and Japan stay undefeated. While Colombia and the United States clinched their first wins in Group C and Puerto Rico and Venezuela opened Group D with victories.

Japan and Australia remain undefeated after Day 4, and are close to clinch a spot in the quarterfinals out of Group B.

In Group A, Chinese Taipei gave the Netherlands their first loss. Both teams are one win away from the quarterfinals, but the group could end in a four-way tie.

The four groups of the World Baseball Classic are now underway. Colombia reigned in the 10-inning win over Mexico 5-4, and the United States rallied to a 6-2 win over Great Britain in Group C, while Puerto Rico and Venezuela earned their victories over Nicaragua 9-2 and Dominican Republic 5-1, respectively, in Group D.

World Baseball Classic Day 4 results

Panama-Italy2-0BOX SCORE
Chinese Taipei-Netherlands9-5BOX SCORE
Australia-China12-2BOX SCORE
Czechia-Japan10-2BOX SCORE
Colombia-Mexico5-4BOX SCORE
Great Britain-USA2-6BOX SCORE
Nicaragua-Puerto Rico1-9BOX SCORE
Dominican Republic-Venezuela1-5BOX SCORE

Group C

The United States, ranked third in the world, claimed an impressive come-from-behind home win in Phoenix, beating Great Britain 6-2 in Group C.

World No. 22 Great Britain made their presence felt in their World Baseball Classic debut with an early lead off Trayce Thompson’s homer to centre field.

The United States responded with two runs of their own to snatch the lead 2-1 in the bottom of the third. Nolan Arenado’s sharp ground ball sent Paul Goldschmidt home before eventually completing the second run off Kyle Tucker’s line drive to centre field.

Kyle Schwarber padded the USA lead to 5-1 in the fourth inning with a three-run homer to right centre field. Arenado had another productive stint in the sixth inning with a double on a line drive, with Goldschmidt finishing another run. Great Britain’s second run was scored in the top of the seventh but could not produce enough offence in the last two innings to upset the hosts.

Arenado finished the game with two RBI doubles, complementing Schwarber's three-run home run.

USA manager Mike DeRosa pointed out that the focus is on teamwork and to not take anything for granted as they are playing in a tough group with strong teams.

“I just want these guys to understand that no one has to impress anybody in this team. They are one-of-one in every position they play at, so they have to play the game and pass the baton," he said. "There's another future All-Star, Hall of Famer hitting right behind you, so no one has to feel they need to be the hero here."

Colombia earned their first win in the World Baseball Classic in a 5-4, 10-inning thriller at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, to open Group C. A defensive error in the top of the 10th inning by Mexican shortstop Luis Urias allowed the South Americans to score the game-winning run in a tense, back-and-forth game.

Reynaldo Rodriguez wat the key bat in Colombia’s lineup collecting three RBIs in the game. With the game 1-1, he delivered a two-run homer in the fifth to make it 3-1; and two innings later, with the game tied at three, he hit a go-ahead RBI single, to put Colombia 4-3 in the scoreboard.

“Julio Urias started the game for them, he showed his repertiore in the first innings, but then we made our adjustments, (Jorge) Alfaro started the rally in the fifth and we took advantage of a few mistakes he made at that moment to open the game,” said Rodriguez. “It was a great game, both teams gave their best, but at the end of the day it was for Colombia and I’m gratefull for that.” 

A fierce Mexican lineup, which outhit Colombia 9-7, fought back twice in the game to tie the score, in the fifth and seventh, the latter with a solo shot by Randy Arozarena, who starred fat the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2013, playing for Cuba.

Mexico got a chance to walkoff the game in the ninth, when Austin Barnes hit a two-out double to put himself in scoring position. But fireballer Guillermo Zuñiga struck out Alex Verdugo to escape the jam.

Zuñiga, the last of seven pitchers used by Colombia's manager Jolbert Cabrera, was credited with the win in two innings of work, striking out four while giving up one hit and one walk. The loss was charged to Jesus Cruz.

Group D

World No. 6 Venezuela started their campaign with a 5-1 triumph over No. 9 Dominican Republic at LoanDepot Park in Miami.

MLB superstar Juan Soto drove the first run in for the Dominican Republic on a double to centre field, scoring Olympic bronze medallist Julio Rodriguez in the top of the first.

Venezuela tied the game in the bottom of the second, with a homer to deep right field by Anthony Santander, then took a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth after Salvador Perez and Gleyber Torres’ conversion of David Peralta’s single into a two-run play.

Venezuela extended the lead further to 5-1 with a run each in the sixth and eighth innings, earning Eugenio Suarez a run and an RBI single, until the Dominican Republic conceded at the top of the ninth with three strikeouts.

David Peralta drove in three runs and Santander a solo homer to lead the upset against their classic rivals. Martin Perez struck out four across 3.1 innings.

“I needed to have someone in the mound that has experience. Someone who could face a situation and could control the emotions,” said Venezuela manager Omar Lopez. “Martin is great. He has experience and he has the repertoire needed to neutralise the Domincan offence.”

Puerto Rico claimed their first win of the tournament, with a 9-2 effort today in front of an electric crowd at LoanDepot Park in Miami, Florida, in the opener of Group D.

Four-time All-Star and WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup alumni Francisco Lindor scored the first run of the game in the bottom of the first, on a grounder to second. He went 2-for-4 an RBI and two runs scored. 

"Like I said in the press conference before, it's such an amazing feeling when everyone in that locker room has similar backgrounds, when everyone around feeds off that," Lindor said about the atmosphere in the dugout.

Nicaragua tied the game in the top of the fifth, with a solo homer by Elian Miranda off Puerto Rican starter Marcus Stroman. However, the Boricuas took control of the game in the bottom of the fifth, mounting a five-hit, five-run rally to take a comfortable 6-1 lead. Puerto Rico added three more in the seventh, including a two-run double by Christian Vazquez. 

Both starters gave their managers a good outing. Stroman gave up two hits and one run with two strikeouts in 4.2 innings; while Nicaraguan Carlos Rodriguez tossed four innings of two-hit ball, with one run allowed and three strikeouts.

“I knew these boys were gonig to get hot sooner or later, so I had just to limit the other team," said Stroman. "I knew if I kept them in one, two runs, I knew we were going to bounce back and score runs at some point.”

Nicholas Padilla retired the third out in the top of the fifth and earned the win.

"Great competition, great effort by both teams. It was a balanced game, but we had good pitching and it was a collective effort," said Puerto Rican manager Yadier Molina. "We are going to play game after game, one game at a time." Puerto Rico will face Venezuela on Sunday at 19:00.


A grand slam by Yu Chang lifted World No. 2 Chinese Taipei over No. 7 Netherlands, 9-5.

The Netherlands took an early lead against starter Tzu-Peng Huang, but Chinese Taipei reversed it in the bottom of the seventh. The Cleveland Guardians second baseman Yu Chang got to the fourth pitch by starter Lars Huijer, a 93-mile-per-hour fastball, and turned it into an epic grand slam that made the over 18,000 fans of Taichung's Intercontinental Stadium explode.

"The fans lived and died with every pitch," commented Matt Monagan for the MLB website, effectively picturing the role of the Taichung crowd.

Chinese Taipei didn't need to look back. Che-Yuan Wu followed Huang on the mound and posted 4.1 solid innings.

"He had a perfect mix of three pitches, and our guys couldn't figure him out. He did an outstanding job," commented Dutch manager Hensley Meulens."We did well but needed to play better to win."

After the Dutch got to former major leaguer C.C. Lee in the top of the eighth, Chia-Hao Sung worked a four-out save to end the game.

Chinese Taipei will face Cuba, while the Netherlands will play Italy. A win would promote both to the quarterfinals.

Four pitchers combined a five-hitter, striking out six as World No. 12 Panama beat No. 16 Italy, 2-0.

Panama scored the go-ahead run in the second as Jose Ramos homered off starter Michele Vassallotti on a 3-0 count.

Allen Cordoba added an insurance run in the top of the seventh as he got to reliever Sam Gaviglio with an RBI double.

Harold Arauz pitched four solid innings for the win. Relievers Humberto Mejia, Alberto Baldonado and Javy Guerra completed the shutout.

"This team can field, pitch and hit also," said Panama's manager Luis Ortiz after the game. "Let me say that when you face good pitching, hitting is hard. It's hard to scratch a couple of runs off the board. They also made some good plays, but we scored, and I'm very pleased with the effort."

Italy played some great defense.

The Azzurri had runners at the corner and no one out in the bottom of the ninth.

"Last night, we made some mistakes on the mound. Today we played some great defence," commented manager Mike Piazza. "We just couldn't get that breakthrough hit. It's frustrating because I've been there with the guys; I was sorry when they couldn't get that pitch. If you come seven times in scoring position and don't score, you're not going to win, and I don't care who you are playing. That said, I told the guys not to worry about scenarios and runs. Just go out tomorrow and try to win the day."

Panama finished group play with a 2-2 record and has a big chance to advance to the quarterfinals. Italy will play the last game against arch-rival Netherlands on Sunday, 12 March.

GROUP A STANDINGS: Chinese Taipei, Netherlands (2 wins-1 loss); Panama (2-2); Italy, Cuba (1-2)


World No. 1 Japan used a couple of rallys in the third and fourth innings to outscore Czechia, 10-2.

WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup alum Rori Sasaki impressed in his 3.2 innings of work, striking out eight.

Sasaki credited Czech hitters: "They hit my fastball easily. It was a dangerous lineup."

A defensive error helped Czechia score the first run of the game in the top of the first, but Samurai Japan took control of the game with a couple of rallies. They got to WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup star Ondrej Satoria, scoring three on doubles by Kensuke Kondoh and Masataka Yoshida. They added four runs on reliever Lukas Hlouch in the bottom of the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Kondoh and Shohei Ohtani.

Hiroya Miyagi, another U-18 Baseball World Cup alum, pitched the final five innings and earned an unusual 15-out save.

Japan and Czechia will finish group play against Australia, Japan on Sunday, 12 March, and Czechia on Monday, 13 March.

World No. 10 Australia outhit, 12-5, and outscored, 12-2, China in seven innings to earn a second win in as many games.

Australia didn't waste time to get on the board, scoring three in the bottom of the first against starter Xin Qi. Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Robbie Glendinning went 2-for-4 with a two-run home run in the bottom of the fourth.

WBSC Premier12 stars Aaron Whitefield and Darryl George also had a two-hit game.

Kyle Glogosky, the first of four Aussie pitchers, went 2.2 innings for the win.

Australia will face Japan on Sunday, 12 March, while China will finish group play against Korea on Monday, 13 March.

"I'm just enjoying today's win and not thinking about tomorrow," commented Australia's manager David Nilsson. "We know Japan's value, they are the best team in the world but will be ready to play. My plan is to beat them."

GROUP B STANDINGS: Japan (3 wins-0 losses); Australia (2-0); Czechia (1-1); Korea (0-2); China (0-3).