World Baseball Classic Roundup: Venezuela Stays Perfect, Canada Picks Up Big Win

Image credit: Anthony Santander (Getty Images)

Venezuela 4, Nicaragua 1

What Happened: Nicaragua’s Erasmo Ramirez kept Venezuela off the board for three innings, giving Nicaragua a chance to take an early lead. But once Nicaragua had to go to the bullpen, an RBI single by Andres Gimenez, a two-RBI single by Eugenio Suarez and an RBI double by Anthony Santander gave Venezuela all the runs it needed to improve to 3-0.

Stars of the Game: Santander went 2-for-2 with a double, two walks, a run scored and an RBI. Suarez had two hits. Ramirez worked three scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out three. Nicaragua’s Benjamin Alegria had three hits. The 25-year-old hit .500 in 12 tournament at-bats. 

What It Means: Venezuela can start making its plans for the quarterfinals. If the Dominican Republic beats Israel tonight, that will clinch a spot for Venezuela, which has already beaten the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Even if that doesn’t happen, Venezuela’s path to the next round looks pretty clear. Nicaragua’s pool play is over and at 0-4, it is relegated and will have to qualify for the next World Baseball Classic.

– J.J. Cooper

Canada 5, Colombia 0

What Happened: Noah Skirrow and three relievers combined on a shutout, Otto Lopez hit a three-run homer and Canada shut out Colombia in a game with big implications for the Pool C standings. Bo Naylor gave Canada the lead with an RBI single in the fourth and Owen Caissie padded Canada’s lead with an RBI single in the eighth to make it 2-0. Lopez’s three-run homer in the top of the ninth blew the game open, and Scott Mathieson wrapped up the shutout with a scoreless ninth.

Stars of the Game: Skirrow, a 24-year-old Phillies prospect, pitched five scoreless innings with two hits allowed, one walk and five strikeouts for Canada. He threw just 58 pitches, 40 for strikes, and faced the minimum after inducing two double play balls and getting a strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play from his catcher Naylor. Colombia lefthander Rio Gomez, the son of late ESPN broadcaster Pedro Gomez, made his WBC debut in the sixth inning and pitched 1.1 scoreless innings with no hits allowed, one walk and two strikeouts. He departed to an ovation from the crowd in Phoenix, where he and his family grew up.

Prospects Of Note: Lopez, the Blue Jays No. 15 prospect, went 2-for-5 with a triple and a three-run homer. Naylor, the Guardians No. 3 prospect, went 1-for-5 with an RBI. Caissie, the Cubs No. 13 prospect, went 1-for-4 with an RBI.

What It Means: Canada improves to 2-1 in Pool C and can reach the WBC quarterfinals for the first time with a win over Mexico in its final game on Wednesday. Colombia falls to 1-2 and is all but eliminated from quarterfinals contention after unexpectedly falling to Great Britain and Canada following its tournament-opening win over Mexico.

– Kyle Glaser

Dominican Republic 10, Israel 0 (7 innings)

What Happened: Israel hung with the Dominican Republic for five innings, but the D.R. took control late for a mercy-rule victory. The Domincans scored four runs in the sixth on a two-run double by Julio Rodriguez and two-run single off by Manny Machado and finished it with three more runs in the seventh. Jean Segura ended the game with a two-run double to score Dominican veterans Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz. Roansy Contreras combined with Genesis Cabrera, Luis Ortiz and Hector Neris on a one-hit shutout with 10 strikeouts for the D.D.

Stars of the Game: Machado went 2-for-4 with a tape measure home run in the bottom of the second to the upper deck in left-center. He came through again in the sixth, driving in Rodriguez and Juan Soto on an RBI single. 

Prospects of Note: Israel righthander Jacob Steinmetz, a third-round pick of the D-backs in 2021, got the start and struck out three batters over 1.2 innings. He struck out Machado in the first and Jeremy Pena and Gary Sanchez in the second. He mixed a four-seam fastball that topped out at 95 mph, a low-80s slider, a curveball and a changeup. 

What It Means: The Dominican Republic improves to 2-1 and will play Puerto Rico in an elimination game tomorrow. Johnny Cueto is the probable starter for the Dominicans in the critical matchup. Israel dropped to 1-2 and will wrap up pool play against Venezuela on Wednesday.

 – Geoff Pontes

Mexico 2, Great Britain 1

What Happened: Alexis Wilson hit the tiebreaking RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift Mexico to a tight victory over Great Britain and keep their hopes of advancing alive. Wilson, who was slated to be Mexico’s bullpen catcher before being elevated to the roster when Alejandro Kirk withdrew from participating, also drove in Mexico’s first run with an RBI single in the second inning. Great Britain tied the score when Chavez Young led off the sixth inning with a double, stole third base and came home on B.J. Murray’s infield single, but the Brits never got another runner past first base, setting the stage for Mexico to re-take the lead and hold it.

Stars of the Game: Wilson, who plays for Quintana Roo in the Mexican League, went 2 for 3 and drove in both of Mexico’s runs from the No. 9 spot in the order. Phillies righthander Taijian Walker made his first start for Mexico and pitched four scoreless innings with one hit allowed, one walk and eight strikeouts.

Prospects of Note: Mariners No. 1 prospect Harry Ford went 1 for 2 with a double and two walks for Great Britain. His double and first walk came against veteran righthander Taijuan Walker. Reds pitching prospect Donovan Benoit pitched two scoreless innings of relief with three strikeouts for Great Britain and sat 94-97 mph on his fastball.

What It Means: Mexico improved to 2-1 in pool play and set up a winner-take-all showdown with Canada on Wednesday. The winner of the Canada-Mexico game will advance to the quarterfinals. The loser will be eliminated. Great Britain wrapped up its first WBC with a 1-3 record and generally impressed. They hung tough against Team USA and Mexico, the pool’s two most talented teams, and rallied to upset Colombia for their first WBC win.

Kyle Glaser

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