In the win-or-go-home game last night in Jalisco, Mexico in Pool D of the World Baseball Classic, Venezuela came back and held on to beat Italy, 4-3. Venezuela advanced to the second round in San Diego, where they will play Team USA on Wednesday night at 9pm ET on MLB Network (Drew Smyly is expected to start for the US).
Italy jumped on the board in the bottom of the first as John Andreoli doubled to start the inning and came around to score on Daniel Descalso’s single.
That score held until the 6th inning, as Italy starter AJ Morris held Venezuela to two base runners over the first five innings (one walk, a hit batter, and five strikeouts). Both base runners were erased on double plays.
Venezuela scored a run to tie the game at 1-1 in the sixth, as a leadoff walk and an error started the inning. Ender Inciarte singled with one out to drive in the run.
Italy retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh on Andreoli’s solo home run (his third of the WBC). He also drove in a total of seven runs.
In the eighth, Venezuela went down quietly, but in the ninth, Miguel Cabrera led off with a homer to tie the game. A walk followed and then Rougned Odor thought he hit a homer, but it was ruled an RBI single to give Venezuela the lead. Two batters later, Alcides Escobar executed a suicide squeeze, which ended up being the game winner (1-for-2 with a walk).
Italy didn’t just go away in the bottom of the ninth, as Alex Liddi led off with a solo homer off Francisco Rodriguez (who I guess didn’t get hurt the other night). K-Rod came back and induced three straight ground outs to close out the victory for Venezuela.
Drew Butera was the DH for Italy, but he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Second round action in San Diego kicks off tonight at 9pm ET on MLB Network, as the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico square off. Neither team has lost a game.
Second round action in Tokyo continued this morning, as Japan won the back-and-forth affair over Cuba, 8-5.
With the game tied at 5-5 in the bottom of the eighth, a one out single, followed by an error and a sac fly put Japan on top. The next batter, Tetsuto Yamada, hit a two-run home run (his second of the game).
Cuba went down quietly in the ninth. Against the Japanese bullpen, Cuba scored just one run on three hits after the 4th inning (against five relievers).
Former KC Royal Nori Aoki started in right field for Japan and went 0-for-4 with an RBI and a strikeout.
Japan is now 2-0 with their final game of the second round coming tomorrow at 6am ET on MLB Network against 1-1 Israel. It is a quick turnaround for Cuba, who dropped to 0-2. They face the Netherlands at 11pm ET (who is 1-1).