Team USA is heading back to the World Baseball Classic championship game after a dominant performance against Team Cuba with help from a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers teammates.
Cuba jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against Adam Wainwright with three infield singles and a walk, but they could not capitalize on their quick start and left the bases loaded.
Mookie Betts once again jump-started USA’s offense with a leadoff double in the bottom of the first inning and he came around to score when Paul Goldschmidt launched a two-run homer.
Trea Turner continued his red-hot hitting in the second inning with a solo home run. It was Turner’s first at-bat since his dramatic grand slam against Team Venezuela on Saturday. Betts followed with another single, but Mike Trout lined out to end the inning.
USA rallied again in the third inning when Nolan Arenado singled, Kyle Schwarber was hit by a pitch and Will Smith walked. Pete Alonso singled to put USA up by three runs, and they added another on a sacrifice fly from Tim Anderson.
In the fourth inning, Goldschmidt walked and Arenado tripled to right field before Schwarber walked and Arenado scored on a wild pitch, making the score 7-1 USA.
Cuba added another run in the fifth inning when Yoan Moncada doubled before Erisbel Arruebarrena and Andy Ibanez singled, but one more run was all they were able to add.
USA loaded the bases again in the bottom half of the inning, and with two outs, Goldschmidt singled to drive in two runs, making the score 9-2.
In the sixth inning, Smith started another rally with a leadoff double before Jeff McNeil walked. Turner then blasted his second home run of the game to put the United States up by 10 runs. Another single from Betts kept the rally going and Mike Trout doubled to drive in the Dodgers’ right fielder.
USA then added one last run in the ninth inning with a home run from Cedric Mullins to make the score 14-2 before Aaron Loup closed out the game.
Betts finished the game going 3-for-6 with two runs scored while Smith went 1-for-4 with a run and walk.
On the pitching side, Wainwright went four innings while giving up one run before he was replaced by Miles Mikolas who replicated his teammates’ success. Loup pitched a scoreless ninth while giving up one hit.
What’s next for Team USA?
Team USA will have a chance to defend its 2017 title against the winner of the Team Mexico versus Team Japan game being played on Monday night. The championship game will be held at loanDepot Park in Miami on March 21 at 4 p.m. PT.
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