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Diamondbacks reporting from WBC: day 7 and 8

Group phase: DONE.

2023 World Baseball Classic Pool C: Game 10 Team USA v. Team Colombia Photo by Daniel Shirey/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Group C and D also finished their group games yesterday. One big surprise, as tournament favourite Dominican Republic had an early exit, and a tinier surprise with USA ending second in Group C, although that was bound to happen after going down against Mexico.

The results leave USA paired with Venezuela, while Mexico will take on a fight with Puerto Rico.

Diamondbacks reporting

Will Sherriff (Australia/Rookie Leagues/Perth Heat)

  • Australia 3 @ Cuba 4: didn’t play.

Australia scored an early run in the 2nd, after barely missing a homerun, and loaded the bases with two outs in the 3rd, but didn’t take advantage. That left Cuba with the opportunity to tie the game in the same inning. In the bottom of the 5th a single, walk and hit by pitch left the bases loaded with no outs and Cuba brought home all 3 of them. While down 4-1 Australia got a 2-run homer in the following inning, but after couldn’t get a hit no more. Cuba advances to semifinals where they will meet USA or Venezuela.

Dominic Fletcher, Dominic Miroglio, Mitchell Stumpo (Italy/Reno Aces)

  • Italy 3 @ Japan 9: Fletcher: 4 AB, 3 H, 1 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO; Stumpo: 1.0 IP (14 P - 9 S), 0 BB, 0 H, 0 R, 3 SO.

Ohtani threw 71 pitches in 4.2 innings, allowing 2 runs. Ohtani also had a good offensive game, but this time the headlines were for lesser known NPB-players Murakami and Okamoto, with a combined 6 RBI. With this result Japan moves on to the next round where they will face Puerto Rico or Mexico.

Japan was leading 4-0 after 3 and 7-2 after 5, making the game an uphill battle for Team Italy. But at least the Diamondbacks made the most of it, with Dominic Fletcher knocking in all 3 runs of Italy and Mitchell Stumpo striking out his three opponents on 14 pitches, albeit in a low-leverage situation.

Fletcher started his night well, hitting a single on an inside slider-curve that dropped into center field. As the pitch count went up, Ohtani got a bit sloppy and in the 5th he loaded the bases after two HBP and a single. Fortunately for Italy Dominic Fletcher came to bat:

Similar pitch as in the 1st inning, similar result, although this time dropping more into right field, and with consequences: Italy clawed back to 2-4. Japan slowly walked away again to 9-2 and in the top 8th it was once again Dominic Fletcher who was of offensive note, crushing a Yu Darvish cutter into left field:

In the bottom of the 8th inning Mitchell Stumpo entered the game and although the match was already over, he got some encouraging results on the cutter and fastball, while also mixing in a couple of changeups to the left-handed batter, getting all three of Kondo, Ohtani and Yamada to strike out. Don’t be too light on that result.

It was Dominic’s and Italy’s first homer in this year’s WBC by the way.

All in all, a great tournament from Italy.

Endrys Briceño (Venezuela/Amarillo Sod Poodles)

  • Venezuela 5 @ Israel 1: 0.1 IP (11 P - 6 S), 0 H, 1 BB, 0 SO, 0 R.

An early 3-0 lead for Venezuela led them to take things easy against Israel, that wasn’t able to take advantage of that, getting just 1 hit less than Venezuela, but not being able to score more than 1 run.

With a 5-1 lead in the bottom 8th Briceño was summoned to take the mound and get the final out in the inning, something he achieved after allowing a walk. The 31-year old almost exclusively worked with a 95+ mph sinker that didn’t induce any swings and misses, but eventually got the result Venezuela needed.

Former Diamondbacks Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta were in the batting lineup, hitting 8th and 9th, with both getting a hit in the game. For Escobar it was his first in the WBC, although it was a (solo) homerun as well.

Jacob Steinmetz (Israel/Rookie leagues)

  • Israel 0 @ Dominican Republic 10: 1.2 IP (38 P - 19 S), 2 H, 2 BB, 3 SO, 1 R.
  • Venezuela 5 @ Israel 1: didn’t play.

The announcers at the game made mention of the 4th youngest pitcher to start a game at the WBC. Well, yeah, it was quite the surprise to see Jacob Steinmetz make a start against, of all teams, the Dominican Republic, but then again, with Israel on the brink of elimination in the WBC why not give some young pitcher an opportunity to play at an event like this one? And, looking back, it really didn’t matter as Israel was almost shut out by their opponent: they got just 1 hit.

Steinmetz did fairly well for a 19-year old kid facing some of the best baseball players in the entire game. He allowed a hit to Juan Soto in the first at bat, although if you think left fielder Horowitz made a poor play, I am on your side.

Struggling a bit with his command, Steinmetz showed some good stuff from time to time, with some really good pitches down in the zone. Steinmetz was allowed to go just one time through the order, so with the effort increasing in the second and his fastball velocity dropping a mile (he reached over 94 in the first), he was congratulated by Ian Kinsler and taken out before he had to face Juan Soto a second time.

Ketel Marte (2B/Dominican Republic)

  • Israel 0 @ Dominican Republic 10: 4 AB, 1 H, 0 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO.

Hitting 6th in the lineup, Ketel Marte made his WBC debut against Israel and in his 2nd at bat (he grounded out against Jacob Steinmetz) he stretched a bit for a nice double into center field, bringing home the Dominican’s 3rd run. Marte was robbed of a second hit when he hit a chopper with a lot of movement to center field where Joc Pederson barely made a catch. With Nelson Cruz and Robinson Canó entering the game, former Diamondback Jean Segura was also given the opportunity to get a hit, which he achieved, knocking in two, ending the game on the mercy rule after 7 innings.

  • Puerto Rico 5 @ Dominican Republic 2: 4 AB, 1 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO.

A huge atmosphere accompanied this juggernaut elimination game, its importance being quite clear in the stadium with all the noise after each out or hit. Although Marte didn’t have any important contribution offensively I think he looked good defensively at 2nd base, making some solid plays, but especially on a throw to third base in the 5th inning. That gives some hope for this season, ladies and gentleman.

Emmanuel Rivera (3B/Puerto Rico)

  • Puerto Rico 5 @ Dominican Republic 2: 4 AB, 1 H, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 1 SO.

Once again Rivera got a nice hit on a sinker, this time in the first inning, but couldn’t contribute to much more in a crucial match against the Dominican Republic. The headlines in this game were for Francisco Lindor and Edwin Diaz, but above all Puerto Rico looked once again really solid on the defensive side of the game, which includes Emmanuel Rivera as well. After eliminating the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico will now play Mexico in the semifinals.

Alek Thomas (CF/Mexico)

  • Great Britain 1 @ Mexico 2: 0 AB.

The pitchers of Great Britain did a great effort in reducing the walks in this game, which led to a tough game for Mexico, although they certainly got a strong performance from their pitchers. Alek Thomas got some rest in this game, but he had to enter the game at the end as a defensive replacement to make sure the game would finish in 9 innings, because the Brits surely got the Mexicans sweating in the end.

  • Mexico 10 @ Canada 3: 4 AB, 1 H, 1 BB, 2 SO, 2 R, 0 RBI.

Interesting game between Mexico and Canada until the 6th inning, when an Alek Thomas single turned into a double after some good running and bad defence. Although the aggressive baserunning wasn’t really necessary eventually (in the following at bat Barnes was walked) it showed yet another fine action from Thomas, who had walked and stolen a base in his previous at bat as well. Arozarena brought all three baserunners home and never looked back. Thomas, in the following at bat, reached 1st base on a fielder’s choice, but would later steal 2nd again and was brought home not much later. When on the bases, Thomas proves to be a threatening force.

Canada had won the day before against Colombia 5-0, so for them the game against Mexico presented still an opportunity to reach the next round.

Merrill Kelly (SP/USA)

  • USA 3 @ Colombia 2: 3.0 IP (61 P - 36 S), 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 SO.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the US is kicked out in the following game against Venezuela. Pounding on Canada prevented USA from getting embarrassed, like in the game against Mexico, but there were still some sloppy defensive plays. Kelly wasn’t really at his best either, but escaped from any damage in the 2nd, but was less lucky in the 3rd, where Colombia took a 2-1 lead.

Despite not pitching very well, you have to be a bit lucky too. First it was a 92 mph way over the strike zone that brought home the man from 3rd. Later it was Alfaro who got the bat on a well wide curve that was misplayed by Trea Turner. And then a bad pitch that Reynaldo Rodriguez launched well into center field. Bad luck and mediocre pitching, not the best performance of Merrill Kelly.

Fortunately, though, if nothing is working, you always have Mike Trout to save the day.

Let’s hope the US steps up their game a bit.