Originally published by DodgerBlue.com
A pair of Los Angeles Dodgers faced off in the quarterfinal round of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, with Mookie Betts representing Team USA and David Peralta wearing the colors for Team Venezuela.
The matchup provided arguably the most exciting one yet in the international tournament with early offense, multiple lead changes and late-inning heroics. Going into the game, Betts told Team USA manager Mark DeRosa to manage it like a playoff game, and the atmosphere matched that.
“It just tells me these guys are all in on this,” DeRosa said of Betts’ message. “I know it’s hard for parent clubs to understand, but when it starts to come together and you feel like a team, you have to match the energy in this building or you’re going to get beat.
“So, yeah, there were moments in the game tonight where I wasn’t looking to tomorrow, I was just saying we got to figure out a way to keep us in this ballgame, get our offense going.”
USA came out swinging early with a three-run first inning, started off by a single from Betts.
Mike Trout followed with a bloop single that Betts read perfectly and allowed him to advance to third before a throwing error gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Paul Goldschmidt followed with a single to make it 2-0, before Nolan Arenado and Kyle Tucker singled to make the score 3-0.
Venezuela came back to with a two-run home run from Luis Arraez in the bottom half of the first inning to cut USA’s lead to one run.
Both pitching staffs then settled down with two scoreless innings each, but USA added another run with a pair of singles from Kyle Schwarber and J.T. Realmuto and a sacrifice fly from Betts. The Dodgers All-Star finished 1-for-4 with one RBI and one run scored.
In the fifth inning, Kyle Tucker made the score 5-2 with a solo home run, but then things started to fall apart for USA.
Venezuela had four batters reach base and a pair of wild pitches by Daniel Bard made the score 5-3 before Jason Adam replaced him. Bard got Arraez to ground into a force out, making the score 5-4, but Salvador Pérez doubled to tie the game.
Ronald Acuña Jr. then hit a sacrifice fly to put Venezuela on top for the first time in the game at 6-5.
In the seventh, Luis Arraez hit his second homer of the game, putting his country up 7-5 and making the odds look bleak for USA.
But some hope came through when Tim Anderson walked in the top of the eighth, which was followed by a bloop single from Pete Alonso. Realmuto was then hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Trea Turner was up and quickly found himself into an 0-2 count. However, his swing on the third pitch changed the outcome of the game as Turner blasted a grand slam to left field, igniting the crowd and his team with fire and putting USA up 9-7.
Devin Williams pitched a scoreless eighth and Ryan Pressly shut the door in the ninth inning to send Team USA to a semifinals matchup against Cuba on Monday night.
“I think for me I look at it not pool-related, but just — being honest with you, it’s one of the greatest games I’ve ever been a part of,” DeRosa said, calling the game incredibly special. “Someone had to win, someone had to lose”
“Trea Turner stepped up just with a 0-2 absolute bomb. Lance Lynn battled through four innings. We knew our bullpen was one of the big strengths of our team. Daniel struggled a little bit. We had to go get him and burn Adam in a spot we usually wouldn’t use him in.
“But there was no tomorrow. I mean, their team was littered with Big Leaguers. The passion in this building was absolutely incredible. When Arraez hit both those homers, to see those guys come out of the dugout — I wanted to match — I told the guys before the game, I wanted to match their passion. I had played over there. I had been a part of that, coming out of the dugout and jumping around and being part of the Leones in Caracas.
“So I wanted to match that. I wanted us to meet our guys at home plate as well. When Trea clipped that ball, honestly, I saw about 35 guys, including the coaches, kind of black out and lose their minds for a minute. So it was just an awesome moment.”
David Peralta added to WBC success
Although the game results were not what he wanted, Peralta had a solid game all around. He finished his day going 1-for-4 with a two-out single in the fourth inning.
He also showed off his glove with a diving catch in the fifth inning to rob Goldschmidt of a hit.
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