World Baseball Classic: A Pair of Eighth-Inning Home Runs Lead USA to Victory

Down 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Adam Jones hit a solo home run to tie the game and Eric Hosmer hit a two-run, game-winning homer for Team USA, setting them up nicely in Pool F action in the World Baseball Classic.

The USA struggled with runners in scoring position all game, but Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer‘s clutch, eighth-inning home runs led the team to a 4-2 victory over Venezuela in World Baseball Classic action.

Pitching had the upper hand early. USA pitcher Drew Smyly carved apart the Venezuela lineup. In 4.2 innings of work, Smyly struck out eight batters, allowed three hits and gave up one unearned run.

For Venezuela, Felix Hernandez made easy work of the USA squad. He pitched five innings, allowed zero runs on three hits with three strikeouts. In four out of the five innings, Hernandez went three-up, three-down.

Venezuela got on the board first in the top of the third inning. After a single up the middle by Carlos Gonzalez, and a throwing error by Smyly on a sacrifice bunt, Ender Inciarte hit a sacrifice fly and Venezuela took a 1-0 lead.

The U.S. team threatened in the bottom half of the third but failed to capitalize on the opportunity. With one out in the inning, Jonathan Lucroy, Alex Bregman and Ian Kinsler all singled to load the bases. Jones grounded into an inning-ending double play and Hernandez worked out of the jam.

In the sixth inning, USA had another opportunity to score. With runners on first and second with one out, Venezuela relief pitcher Jose Castillo struck out Christian Yelich and Nolan Arenado.

Venezuela scored their second run of the game on a two-out home run from Rougned Odor in the top of the seventh inning. USA relief pitcher David Robertson surrendered the bomb.

In the bottom half of the seventh, USA got that run back on Lucroy’s sacrifice fly that scored Hosmer. With runners on first and second, and a chance to tie the game, Kinsler grounded out and USA left yet another runner in scoring position.

It was in the eighth inning that Venezuela pitcher Hector Rondon struggled. Six USA batters reached base off him, including Jones’ solo home run to tie the game and Hosmer’s two-run home run that led to the win.

Luke Gregerson shut the door on Venezuela in the ninth inning. He earned his first save of the World Baseball Classic.

What to look forward to next?

Team Venezuela (0-1) is back in action at 7 p.m. PST, Thursday as they take on Team Dominican Republic (0-1). The D.R. lost to Team Puerto Rico 3-1 in its first game of round 2 on Tuesday. D.R. looks to rebound after its first lost since the 2009 WBC.

For Team USA (1-0), it takes on Team Puerto Rico (1-0) at 7 p.m. PST, Friday. Marcus Stroman takes the bump for USA and Pueto Rico’s Seth Lugo opposes him, in a battle of the 1-0 squads.

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