With Win Over Colombia, Great Britain Clears Path To Quarterfinals For Team USA

Image credit: Chavez Young (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

PHOENIX—Great Britain did the United States its biggest favor since exporting The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Harry Ford homered, Chavez Young and Jaden Rudd each drove in two runs and Great Britain rallied to upset Colombia, 7-3, on Monday afternoon at Chase Field in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic.

For Great Britain, the significance of the contest is it’s the team’s first WBC win. For Team USA, the significance is its road to the quarterfinals just got a lot less complicated.

Mexico, Colombia and Team USA all entered the day with a chance to finish 3-1 in pool play. If that happened, Team USA would have been at the mercy of tiebreakers to advance.

Colombia owns a head-to-head win over Mexico and Mexico owns a head-to-head win over Team USA. In order to go 3-1, Team USA would have had to beat Colombia, meaning no team would have the head-to-head advantage. As such, the three-way tiebreaker would have been the run quotient.

The run quotient is calculated by dividing the number of runs a team allowed by the number of outs it recorded. The lower the quotient, the better. That is how Cuba and Italy won the tiebreakers in Pool A and advanced to the quarterfinals after all five teams in the pool finished 2-2.

Because Mexico has already played both Team USA and Colombia and allowed 10 runs in those two games while recording 57 outs, it would be nearly impossible for Team USA, which allowed 11 runs to Mexico, to finish with a better runs quotient. Team USA’s only realistic chance to advance if all three teams finished 3-1 would have been to finish with a better run quotient than Colombia.

In order to do that, Team USA would not only have had to win out to have a chance at the quarterfinals—it would have had to beat Colombia by at least eight runs in their meeting. Or, in a less likely scenario, it would have had to win 1-0 in 12 innings.

For the first three innings of the game between Colombia and Great Britain, it looked like Team USA might find itself in that unfavorable situation. Colombia raced out to an early 3-0 lead and appeared en route to a 2-0 start, with a winnable game against Canada up next before a finale against Team USA.

But Great Britain suddenly and unexpectedly flipped the script. Young drilled a two-run single to cap a three-run fourth inning and tie the score. After Darnell Sweeney was intentionally walked in front of him, Rudd made Colombia pay with a go-ahead, two-run double down the left-field line. Ford, the Mariners No. 1 prospect, padded the lead with a leadoff homer in the seventh and Sweeney added an RBI double in the inning for insurance.

Colombia rallied in the ninth to cut the deficit to 7-5 and brought the tying run to the plate with two outs, but Ian Gibaut struck out Meibrys Viloria swinging through a 95 mph fastball to end it.

Great Britain streamed out of the dugout in celebration, and Team USA breathed a sigh of relief.

With Colombia losing, Team USA controls its own destiny. Now, Team USA just needs to win out to reach the quarterfinals—no run quotient needed.

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