Team USA Overcomes Early Deficit to Outlast Great Britain in WBC

Kyle Schwarber homers for the USA against Great Britain in WBC Pool C.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

USA 6, Great Britain 2

PHOENIX, Mar. 11 — A first-inning home run by Trayce Thompson gave Great Britain an early lead, but Team USA bounced back to win, 6–2, in the opening game for each team in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic. Kyle Schwarber went 1-for-3 with two walks, a homer, and three RBI for USA. Paul Goldschmidt went 1-for-3 with a walk and three runs scored, while St. Louis Cardinals teammate Nolan Arenado went 3-for-5 with two RBI, and a run scored in the victory. Thompson ultimately went 2-for-4 in the loss.

After the Thompson homer with one out off Adam Wainwright, the Americans responded in the bottom half by loading the bases with two outs. However, Great Britain starter Vance Worley got USA shortstop Trea Turner to ground to second, escaping the jam. Team USA got to Worley in the bottom of the third, with the rally starting after a one-out error by Great Britain shortstop Darnell Sweeney allowed Goldschmidt to reach. A wild pitch advanced Goldschmidt to second, and a double by Arenado brought Goldschmidt around to score the tying run. Schwarber advanced Arenado to third on a fly to center before Turner walked, putting runners on the corners for left fielder Kyle Tucker. Jake Esch took the hill to pitch to Tucker, whose single to center scored Arenado and gave USA a 2–1 lead.

USA Adds to Lead, Great Britain Gets One Back

The lead widened in the bottom of the fourth after a one-out single and stolen base by center fielder Mike Trout. Esch plunked Goldschmidt before Arenado popped to third off new pitcher Ryan Long. That brought up Schwarber, who launched a 1–2 changeup past the pool in right-center for a three-run home run, extending the lead to 5–1. Two innings later, this time off Daniel Cooper, Goldschmidt stroked a single to left. Arenado followed with his second double of the game, a shot to the left-field corner. The hustling Goldschmidt scored from first to make the score 6–1.

Team Great Britain got back within “slam range” of USA in the top of the seventh. Pinch-hitter D’Shawn Knowles smoked a triple to right off Kyle Freeland and scored when Anfernee Seymour followed with a grounder to third. But 6–2 was as close as Great Britain got, as a perfect eighth by Freeland and a scoreless ninth by Bednar, who struck out the side, finalized the score.

Postgame Reflections

Great Britain manager Drew Spencer was proud of the effort put forth by his team. The Thompson homer created a great vibe in the dugout. “We were excited,” he said. “That’s a great moment for us. We said for us to have a chance in this game we would need to strike early, and we did. It built some confidence. People were excited that the game plan looked like it was working.”

He said his pitchers had a lot to be proud of, given the talent in the American batting order. “…my pitchers executed, and I’m proud of them,” he beamed. “I think they did a fantastic job. And I think every one of them deserves to go home and hold their up head high.”

Spencer also said that his team “showed they were ready for the competition.” He continued, “I don’t think anybody was expecting that game to be that close, when it was — except us. There was 30 men in that dugout that knew we were going to battle. And we did.”

USA manager Mark DeRosa said that Great Britain “absolutely” could surprise people in the tournament. He added that baseball is about “who executes, who gets timely hits.” Goldschmidt agreed, saying, “Their offense was good. They had a lot of hits. Had some speed out there. And they played solidly all the way around. And we were able to just get those couple big hits, couple extra base hits. We had a lot of guys on base, but they were able to get out of it. So they did a good job. And we were fortunate to get the win.”

Team USA

Both DeRosa and starting pitcher Adam Wainwright said the game had a playoff atmosphere. Wainwright said it was “probably the most exciting game I’ve pitched in a long time, honestly. It was so fun. The crowd was rocking early on. We had the USA chant going. It was — man, that was a special day for me and our team. But I’ve been waiting a long time to do it. I’m glad I did.”

Looking Ahead

Team Great Britain faces Team Canada, who was off Saturday, on Sunday afternoon at noon Arizona time. Sunday night Team USA will face Team Mexico, who lost to Colombia in the early game Saturday. First pitch for that heavily anticipated matchup will be at 7 pm.

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Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan M. Thompson, Editor-in-chief

Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Colorado Rockies press corps. His first and biggest love is baseball.

Evan lives in Gilbert, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.

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