Trout Leads USA to Victory over Colombia and Quarterfinal Berth

Mike Trout hitting in the USA win over Colombia
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

USA 3, Colombia 2

PHOENIX, Mar. 15 — Mike Trout went 3-for-4 with three RBI, giving USA all the runs it needed to defeat Colombia, 3–2, and advance to the quarterfinals in the World Baseball Classic. Trout is the first American with a three-hit, three-RBI game in the WBC since current Team USA manager Mark DeRosa.

Right fielder Mookie Betts led off the game with an atom ball line drive to left. Trout — the center fielder — followed with a triple to the corner in right-center field. After first baseman Paul Goldschmidt walked to put runners on the corners, third baseman Nolan Arenado hit a rocket on the ground near the line at third. Gio Urshela made a slick backhand and acrobatic throw to second to force Goldschmidt. Fabian Pertuz whipped the relay to first in time to get Arenado by a step and retire the side.

Colombia threatened in the bottom of the second. A leadoff walk by Jorge Alfaro got things going, and a one-out single to center by Meibrys Viloria put runners on first and second. Jesus Marriaga walked, loading the bases while bringing up Pertuz. His pop to first made for the second out on the infield fly rule. Dayan Frias ended the inning on a ground ball to first with the pitcher covering.

USA Breaks Deadlock, but Colombia Responds

USA finally broke through in the top of the third. A two-out single to right by Betts got it started. He advanced to second on a wild pitch. This proved costly to Colombia, as Trout singled to center, scoring Betts from second. Goldschmidt walked, putting two on for Arenado, who flied to left for the third out.

Colombia responded in the bottom of the third. It started with a leadoff double by Oscar Mercado to center. He advanced to third on a ground ball to second by Ramirez and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by Urshela. Alfaro kept the inning alive with an infield single to short. He scored all the way from first on a double to right-center by Reynaldo Rodriguez.

Neither team scored in the fourth, but Colombia had its chance off Kendall Graveman. A one-out single by Pertuz brought up Frias, who hit a ground ball toward first. Goldschmidt fired to second for the force, but Frias beat the relay throw to first, avoiding the double play. It went for naught, however, when he was caught leaning and picked off to end the inning.

Regaining the Lead

In the top of the fifth, Will Smith led off with a walk. On a one-out Betts single to center, Smith went for third. The throw was late, and on the throw, Betts took second, putting two runners in scoring position. This proved important as Mike Trout followed with a single to center, scoring both runners for a 3–2 USA lead. Goldschmidt could not keep the inning alive, as he grounded into a side-retiring 5–4–3 double play. Daniel Bard pitched a scoreless bottom of the fifth to keep the score the same.

Colombia relievers Yapson Gomez, Guillermo Zuñiga, and Julio Vivas pitched a scoreless seventh, eighth, and ninth, respectively, keeping Colombia only one run behind. David Bednar pitched a perfect sixth for USA, striking out one. Jason Adam took the mound for the seventh, striking out the side in 1–2–3 fashion. Devin Williams picked up where Adam left off, tossing a three-up, three-down eighth. He struck out two, with Urshela making the third out on a grounder to short.

Ryan Pressly pitched the ninth for USA. Colombia, fighting to avoid not only elimination but to avoid finishing last in the group, did not make it easy for Pressly. Alfaro grounded to third, where Arenado fielded the tough hop and spun to make the throw. Rodriguez hit a deep fly toward the right-field corner that spelled trouble, but Betts, on his horse, made a sensational running catch for the second out. Pinch-hitter Elias Diaz hit a grounder to short. Turner got a glove to it but couldn’t come up with it, giving Diaz an infield hit. With Adrian Sanchez pinch-running, Jordan Diaz stepped to the plate as the pinch-hitter. He struck out swinging at an uncaught third strike, but Smith got to the ball in plenty of time to throw Diaz out at first and end the game.

Postgame Reflections

Colombia manager Jolbert Cabrera, despite the loss, was proud of his team’s effort through the tournament. “What the boys did on the first game and today, they showed that baseball in Colombia is growing. They’re not scared of playing against anybody. It’s extraordinary, the value that they faced. Today’s game was phenomenal. (We) were fighting against a monster with 15 heads. You cut one down, two more come out and replace the old one.

“It’s very difficult what they did today, and they know they were maintaining the game against the bullpen like they did today. The boys reacted offensively. But unfortunately, we were short…. We have a lot more to give in the future. And we think they should be proud about the work they did today.”

With the loss, Colombia finished last in the group, giving Great Britain an automatic berth in the next WBC and forcing Colombia to have to qualify.

Mark DeRosa

USA manager Mark DeRosa couldn’t say enough good things about his relievers. “It comes down to the players. You can sit up all night and plan it, but they’ve got to execute. And I thought — I mean, could they have done better? Devin Williams threw one pitch the entire rest of pool play and looked like midseason form out there (tonight). David Bednar‘s heater is exploding. Jason Adams has electric weapons to go to. It was nice to see Bard bounce back. And Pressly’s been in the biggest moments in the big leagues in the last, seems like, five, six years. So just awesome domination and execution by those guys. And just proud of Mikey getting that big hit — Trout — getting us the lead. It comes down to those guys.”

Looking Ahead

USA will face Venezuela, who won Pool D with a 4–0 record, Saturday evening at LoanDepot Park in Miami. Mexico, winners of Wednesday’s afternoon game against Canada, will face Puerto Rico Friday in Miami. Both games will start at 7 pm Eastern.

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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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