World Baseball Classic
WBC Daily: Team USA breaks out, a perfect game, an incredible inning
World Baseball Classic

WBC Daily: Team USA breaks out, a perfect game, an incredible inning

Updated Mar. 16, 2023 6:01 p.m. ET

Think the World Baseball Classic is just an exhibition? Tell that to the young hurler from Nicaragua whose strikeouts against three major-league superstars just earned him a new job. 

Monday's slate of Pool C and D games epitomized the beauty and joy of the WBC, each memorable for its own reason. From an unforgettable inning to a defining win for a country to a walk-off perfect game, here's what went down. 

Dominican Republic 6, Nicaragua 1

The Dominican Republic won the game, but a Nicaragua pitcher won the day in Miami. 


The final score felt like an afterthought at the end of a win that never felt in doubt for a powerhouse Dominican Republic team. Instead, what most people will remember from the ninth inning is Duque Hebbert, a 21-year-old pitcher from the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League (LBPN) who struck out Juan Soto, Julio Rodriguez and Rafael Devers in his lone inning of work. 

Hebbert fanned Soto and Devers on low-80s changeups and Rodriguez on a slider that came in a few ticks slower at 80 mph.

The 5-foot-10-inch, 170-pound right-hander has never played affiliated baseball before, but that will soon change. The standout performance convinced a Detroit Tigers scout in attendance to sign Hebbert to a minor-league deal on the spot at loanDepot park. 

"He showed what he is made of," Nicaragua manager Sandor Guido said. "When you have will, when you have heart, you can do very good things." 

Playing in its first-ever WBC, Nicaragua is winless through three games. It had the misfortune Monday of facing a hungry Dominican Republic team coming off a surprising defeat to Venezuela in its opening game of the tournament. In that loss, the Dominican Republic's loaded lineup tallied just six hits and didn't score after the first inning. 

Offense was less of a problem against Nicaragua. In the sixth inning, all pitcher Junior Tellez could do was smile after his 78 mph slider to Soto was lifted 103 mph off the bat on a rocket into the second deck. 

Padres sluggers Soto and Manny Machado each homered in the Dominican Republic win. Machado put three balls in play that traveled at least 390 feet and 104 mph off the bat, though the first two ended in flyouts; the third finally cleared the fence. 

In the final frame, Machado was the only hitter to get to Hebbert when he doubled to left field. Still, Hebbert's performance demonstrated that even a loss in the WBC can be life-changing. 

Great Britain 7, Colombia 5

Great Britain tea'd off at Chase Field in the early afternoon, celebrating with fake sips of tea on every clutch hit in a landmark victory against Colombia.

It was the first WBC win in Great Britain's history — the type of comeback victory that can help grow the game in the United Kingdom. Or, at the very least, help eventually fund better kits.

"I think there will be people who can use this moment as inspiration to come out and play the game and to believe that someone with this name on the front of their chest can be successful," manager Drew Spencer told reporters afterward. "Not only in competitions like this, but they can achieve all their aspirations." 

After plating 32 runs over three games in the qualifiers, Great Britain's offense is demonstrating it belongs on the mightiest international stage. 

Following up on an eight-run effort in Sunday's loss to Canada, the British scored seven runs in an upset win Monday led by top Mariners prospect Harry Ford. The 20-year-old catcher, whose parents were born in Great Britain, is the youngest player to homer during WBC competition. 

Of the 30 players on Great Britain's active roster, five were born in the U.K. That group includes outfielder Jaden Rudd, a 2021 seventh-round pick of the Blue Jays whose two-out, two-run double put his team ahead in the fifth inning. Rudd's go-ahead knock came an inning after Chavez Young tied the game on his own two-out, two-run base hit.

Young, a Pittsburgh Pirates product, has been a catalyst atop the British lineup while showcasing a terrific arm in right field. The 25-year-old Bahamian outfielder stole three bases on Sunday and another in Monday's groundbreaking win, which had significant ramifications in Pool C, putting Team USA in position to advance as long as it wins out in pool play. 

The victory didn't come easy. After surrendering 18 runs to Canada, Great Britain's pitching and defense made things dicey late Monday. 

Colombia vs. Great Britain highlights

Great Britain looked to stay alive in the World Baseball Classic as they took on Colombia. Team GB took the lead in the fifth inning, as Jaden Rudd hit a 2 RBI double. In the seventh they scored two more runs on a homer and wild pitch.

Colombia's Dilson Herrera cut the deficit to three runs with a homer to start the ninth inning. A throwing error on a grounder to third baseman B.J. Murray Jr. followed. With the tying run at the plate, a mound visit from Great Britain's manager served to calm down reliever Ian Gibaut. Spencer stuck with Gibaut, and the Cincinnati Reds product finished off the final two innings in a historic win for Great Britain baseball. 

Puerto Rico 10, Israel

Puerto Rico hit its way to an eight-inning perfect game. 

Wait, what?

That is, oddly, what happened. Kiké Hernández's run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning run-ruled Team Israel, which never reached base against Puerto Rico starter José De León and relievers Yacksel Ríos, Edwin Díaz and Duane Underwood Jr. 

De León, a five-year major league veteran and former top prospect, tied for the most strikeouts in a WBC game with 10 over 5.2 innings. Starters aren't allowed to throw more than 65 pitches in the first round of the tournament, so his day ended at 64 pitches. 

He called the performance the best moment of his baseball career. 

Puerto Rico's offense was led by Francisco Lindor, who knocked in three runs, and "El Mago" Javier Báez, who went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs while earning his nickname. 

Israel vs Puerto Rico Highlights

Israel and Puerto Rico faced off in Pool D for the World Baseball Classic in Miami. In the fifth inning Francisco Lindor smashed a bases-clearing triple for a 9-0 lead. Puerto Rico ace José De León was perfect through 5.2 innings with 10 strikeouts before reaching the 65-pitch limit. It was the first perfect game in World Baseball Classic history.

Puerto Rico has advanced to the championship game in each of the last two WBC tournaments, though that run will be put to the test this year. With 2-0 Venezuela looking poised to advance out of Pool D, a huge game awaits Wednesday between 2-1 Puerto Rico and 1-1 Dominican Republic. 

USA 12, Canada 1

Like the Dominican Republic, the United States made a statement coming off a surprising defeat. 

Six of the first seven USA batters reached base to start the game against 19-year-old Mitch Bratt, forcing the 2021 fifth-round pick of the Texas Rangers out early. Bratt, who became the youngest player to pitch for Canada in a WBC, recorded one out and was charged with six runs allowed. 

It didn't get much better for Canada in the immediate aftermath, as 12 U.S. batters came to the plate in the first inning alone. Following Bratt was R.J. Freure, who was charged with six runs over 2.2 innings. 

A quick first inning from starter Lance Lynn appeared to be all the U.S. team needed to relax and start raking. Team USA came out with a vengeance following the 11-5 loss to Mexico then went into cruise control the rest of the way, run-ruling Canada before the end of seven full innings. 

"The group of guys, the atmosphere, the coaching staff, just everything that comes along with this, it's been unbelievably fun," Mike Trout said. 

Trout and Trea Turner homered, Cedric Mullins and Tim Anderson tripled, and St. Louis Cardinals teammates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado doubled in the win. Thanks to Great Britain's upset, Team USA can ensure it advances out of the pool with a win against Colombia on Wednesday. 

USA vs. Canada Highlights

Canada took on the USA in pool play of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The USA offense got started early by scoring NINE runs in the first inning, capped off by a three-run home run by Mike Trout. The USA would go on to win by a score of 12-1 after seven innings.


(x) indicates a team has advanced, (y) indicates a team has been eliminated

Pool A — Taichung, Taiwan

(x) Cuba: 2-2 

(x) Italy: 2-2

Netherlands: 2-2

Panama: 2-2

Chinese Taipei: 2-2

Pool B — Tokyo, Japan

(x) Japan: 4-0 

(x) Australia: 3-1

Korea: 2-2

(y) Czech Republic: 1-3

(y) China: 0-4

Pool C — Phoenix

Pool D — Miami

Rowan Kavner covers the Dodgers and NL West for FOX Sports. He previously was the Dodgers’ editor of digital and print publications. Follow him on Twitter at @RowanKavner. 

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