Major League Baseball
WBC Daily: What happened in all 8 games during a dramatic Saturday slate
Major League Baseball

WBC Daily: What happened in all 8 games during a dramatic Saturday slate

Updated Mar. 12, 2023 1:22 p.m. ET

The World Baseball Classic reached maximum capacity on Saturday with eight games taking place since we last checked in, including the start of the stateside Pools C and D.  There's plenty to get to! Let's start with the Pool D opener in Miami on Saturday afternoon: 

Puerto Rico 9, Nicaragua 1

This one followed a familiar script as far as WBC games go: any team is capable of keeping it close against superior competition in the early going, but weaker teams almost always struggle to keep runs off the board later in the game. 

Marcus Stroman's three excellent starts in the 2017 World Baseball Classic earned him the tournament MVP for the champions, Team USA. This year, he's pitching for Puerto Rico in honor of his Puerto Rican-born mother, and he looked just as comfortable on the international stage this time around with his new team. Stroman allowed just one run on two hits over 4.2 innings of work, an impressive outing considering the 65-pitch limit in pool play.


That one run — a homer to left off the bat of Elian Miranda to tie the game in the 5th — was easily the most dramatic moment of this contest, and a moment Miranda will surely never forget:

It was all Puerto Rico after that, though, as their bullpen proved far more formidable than that of Nicaragua. Puerto Rican relievers combined for 4.1 innings of scoreless work after Stroman departed, a stark contrast to the eight runs allowed by the Nicaraguan bullpen after starter Carlos Rodriguez (a very talented prospect in the Brewers organization) left the game. 

Even more importantly, the large lead meant Puerto Rico didn't have to use either Alexis or Edwin Diaz to close it out, so they will be fresh and ready to go for the stiffer competition ahead. 

Colombia 5, Mexico 4 (10 innings)

The opener for Pool C in Chase Field was a whole lot more dramatic than the one in loanDepot Park, as Colombia edged out Mexico in one of the more exciting upsets of the tournament thus far. 

Julio Urias was perfect through three innings for Mexico but eventually succumbed to a shocking go-ahead homer by Reynaldo Rodriguez off the left field foul pole in the top of the 5th:

Colombia vs. Mexico Highlights

Colombia took on Mexico in Group C of pool play in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. This back and forth battle went 10 innings and Colombia came out on top 5-4 over Mexico. Notably, Reynaldo Rodriguez led Colombia with a two-run go-ahead home run in the 5th inning and a go-ahead RBI single in the 7th inning.

Randy Arozarena, no stranger to showing up big in big games, answered with a game-tying homer in the bottom half of the fifth:

Back and forth they went, and a tied game heading to the ninth inning meant that we all got to be introduced to Colombian flamethrower Guillermo Zuniga. Having struggled with control in Double-A for the last two seasons, the Dodgers released Zuniga after 2022. He signed with St. Louis this past offseason and is primed to debut at some point in 2023 if he can harness his electric arsenal. That electric arsenal was on display in a big way in the ninth inning:

Mexico shortstop Luis Urias couldn't handle a tough hop in extras, allowing the go-ahead and eventual winning run to score for Colombia: 

Zuniga may have gotten a generous strike-three call to end things, but there's no doubt he made a strong impression on everyone watching. He's clearly a name to know not just for the rest of this tournament but for the big-league season ahead.

Venezuela 4, Dominican Republic 1

Easily the headliner showdown of the day, this one started out hot with two laser beams from Julio Rodriguez (113.4 MPH single) and Juan Soto (105.8 MPH double) to put the powerhouse Dominican Republic up 1-0 in a blink. 

It felt like the star-studded D.R. squad might just be a runaway train of extra-base hits. Instead, Martin Perez and Luis Garcia proceeded to calmly shut down one of the best lineups international baseball has ever seen. 

The Dominican lineup mustered just four hits and zero runs the rest of the way against Garcia and a trio of relievers named Jose: Ruiz, Quijada, Alvarado.

On the flip side, Venezuela received their biggest offensive contributions from the bottom of their lineup, as all five runs were driven in by their bottom three hitters, Anthony Santander, Eugenio Suarez and David Peralta. 

Santander's blast to right field off Sandy Alcantara in the second inning set the tone for the eventual upset: 

Santander also showed up big on defense: 

The incredible pitching and down-order contributions made up for the fact that Venezuela's best player, Ronald Acuna Jr., had one of the worst offensive games of his life. He grounded into two double plays, struck out, and grounded out on a shattered bat in his four plate appearances.

It didn't matter. Venezuela won anyway. And that puts Team D.R. in a must-win position moving forward, immediately changing the tenor of the loaded Pool D. The fun here is just getting started.

USA 6, Great Britain 2

While fellow heavyweight Dominican Republic was thrown right into the fire in Pool D with an opening match-up against a loaded Venezuela team, Team USA was able to ease into pool play with a game against WBC debutantes Great Britain. 

Great Britain vs. USA Highlights

Great Britain took on the USA in pool play of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Great Britian got out to a surprising lead when Trayce Thompson took Adam Wainwright deep for a home run. Kyle Schwarber hit a three-run home run later, and Nolan Arenado's RBI double would cement a 6-2 victory for the United States.

Things got off to a tenuous start with a homer from Trayce Thompson in the top of the first inning.

Eventually, though, the high-powered USA lineup showed up. Kyle Schwarber went big fly over the pool and Nolan Arenado added a couple of RBI doubles to secure the victory for the Americans.

The first real test comes Sunday night as Team USA takes on a Mexico team coming off their surprise opening loss against Colombia. That one's gonna be spicy. 

Korea 7, Czech Republic 3

Padres infielder Ha-Seong Kim hit two homers, which was awfully cool to see but unfortunately may be too little too late for a Korean team that dropped its first two games of pool play.

Korea vs. Czech Republic Highlights

The Republic of Korea got off to a hot start, scoring five runs in the first inning against the Czech Republic. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Ha-Seong Kim went yard. The Republic of Korea walked away with a 7-3 win to end the game.

There is one wonky scenario in which Korea can still advance to the quarterfinals as the Pool B runner-up, but it won't be easy:

Cuba 7, Chinese Taipei 1

The remarkable Taichung crowd was still singing and dancing all game, but Cuba was able to stifle any amount of home-field advantage from the get-go with four runs in the first inning, including a HR from Erisbel Arruebarrena:

The resurgent offense was great to see over the past two games, but the dominant pitching is what helped put Cuba in position to advance to the quarterfinals considering the importance of run prevention in the tiebreakers. In particular, Miguel Romero — a 28-year-old righty in the Oakland A's organizations who has struggled in Triple-A over the last two seasons — was dynamite during pool play. Romero appeared in three of Cuba's four games, striking out 10 and walking none across 6.2 scoreless innings.

This victory officially set up the possibility of all 5 teams in Pool A finishing 2-2 pending the result of Netherlands vs. Italy. More on that — and Cuba's fate — to come…

Japan 7, Australia 1

Ever the showman (ShoMan?), Shohei Ohtani made sure to deliver one more magic moment in Pool Play for the home crowd with a majestic blast towards one of the many giant images of his own face plastered all over the walls and monitors of the Tokyo Dome:

This also led to one of the cooler moments of the tourney thus far, as Japanese fans in the outfield seats passed around the Ohtani home run ball to take pictures with it:

Thus concludes a predictably dominant run through the group stage for Samurai Japan, who were firing on nearly all cylinders and look primed to continue another deep WBC run.

They move on to the quarterfinals, still being held in the Tokyo Dome, where they will face the runner-up from Pool A in Taichung. And who will that runner-up be? I'm so glad you asked…

Italy 7, Netherlands 1

With Cuba's win over Chinese Taipei, the stage was set for the final game of Pool A for maximum chaos — AKA a five-way tie with all five teams finishing at 2-2, were Italy to win. 

Italy jumped out early thanks to a dominant start from Matt Harvey (!!!) and a six-spot in the bottom of the fourth. 

This led to a circus of confusion over the course of the game surrounding the potential tiebreakers in the impending scenario of all five Pool A teams finishing at 2-2. Fortunately for Italy, a commanding 7-1 run win helped ensure that the tiebreaker math involving runs allowed would be in their favor, giving them the runner-up spot behind Cuba who finished first. The celebration was on:

Italy moves on to face Samurai Japan on Thursday, a team likely to be starting that Ohtani fella on the mound. Cuba will also head to Tokyo for the quarterfinals and face the runner-up in Pool B, which will be determined by the final day of action on Monday. 

Jordan Shusterman is half of @CespedesBBQ and a baseball writer for FOX Sports. He has covered baseball for his entire adult life, most notably for, DAZN and The Ringer. He's a Mariners fan living in the Eastern Time Zone, which means he loves a good 10 p.m. first pitch. You can follow him on Twitter @j_shusterman_. 

Top stories from FOX Sports:

FOLLOW Follow your favorites to personalize your FOX Sports experience
World Baseball Classic
Major League Baseball
Shohei Ohtani

Get more from Major League Baseball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more