SEE ALSO: WBC Schedule
Italy was three outs from surprisingly advancing from the Pool D “Group of Death,” but Miguel Cabrera and his Venezuelan teammates had other plans.
The Tigers star homered to lead off the ninth inning to tie the game 2-2 and then Rougned Odor (Rangers) singled home pinch-runner Yangervis Solarte (Padres) with the go-ahead run as Venezuela beat Italy 4-3 to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
“Wow, we keep coming back from behind,” Venezuela manager Omar Vizquel told reporters. “The team never dies. We keep fighting until the end.”
Venezuela will play the United States on Wednesday in San Diego. Puerto Rico was the Group D winner and will play the Dominican Republic tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
Alex Liddi homered for Italy to make it a one-run game in the ninth, but Francisco Rodriguez closed out Venezuela’s win. Venezuela went 2-2 in Round One and Italy was 1-3. Mexico went 1-2 but missed the tiebreaking game because of an arcane runs-scored rule.
John Andreoli (Cubs) homered to give the Italians a 2-1 in the seventh, and had a chance to tie it in the ninth after Liddi’s homer, but grounded out to end the game.
“That kid is just to me incredible,” Italy manager Marco Mazzieri told reporters of Andreoli. “He’s so prepared, so much detail. He hustles all the time. Just a leader.”