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USA Moves On In World Baseball Classic

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Thanks to Adam Jones and a strong bullpen the United States beat Canada in a loser goes home game Sunday in Phoenix and now moves on to 2nd round play at the World Baseball Classic.

Canada coming off a brawl against Mexico scored 1st, plating 2 runs early. Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins led off the 2nd inning with a double to lead off the 2nd inning. Morneau finished 8 of 12 in the 3 games Canada competed. After Morneau’s double Seattle’s Michael Saunders who was group 4 MVP whacked a 2 run home run off Texas lefty Derek Holland to stake the Canadians to the lead. Later a great defensive play by the Reds 2nd baseman Brandon Philips saved the American’s from a  bigger deficit.

The ballgame stayed 2-0 until the Americans finally got going. Joe Mauer led off the 4th inning with abase hit followed by a walk to Met’s 3rd baseman David Wright. A throwing error and a sac fly by Baltimore’s Adam Jones tied the game at 2. Wright who clobbered a grand slam in the win over Italy had a hit and 3 walks. Jones drove in 3 runs and would be the hero later in the ballgame.

The USA have fallen behind in all 3 games and they fell behind again in the 6th inning. Adam Loewen’s rbi single brought home Cincinnati’s Joey Votto and team Canada went back up 3-2. However Canada’s bullpen isn’t nearly as strong as the Americans and it caught up to them in the later innings.

The game stayed that way until the 8th, Canada only 6 outs away from advancing. However Mauer again led off with a hit and Wright walked again. This time team USA manager Joe Torre got aggressive and it paid huge dividends. he sent in a pinch runner for Mauer in the  Diamondbacks  Willie Bloomquist and started both the runners in motion. Jones cracked a gapper and both runners scored giving the USA the lead for good 4-3. Shane Victorino followed with an rbi single making it 5-3 America.

Team Canada wasn’t done yet. They pushed across a run in the bottom of the 8th to make it a 1 run game again. Canada would have tied the game if not taken the lead if not for a tremendous play by Philips, diving to his left and snaring a ball headed for the outfield. The USA put the game away in the top of the 9th off Scott Matheson and then Jon Axford of the Brewers. The Ax gave up the biggest blow a bases clearing double by Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer that scored the final runs for the Americans. Atlanta’s fine closer Craig Kimbral closed out the ballgame and the Canadians in the bottom of the 9th and team America moves on to the next round.

The Americans have made it as far as the semi finals in this event but no further. Their next opponent, to be played in Miami was not known as of this writing as 1 more game was left to be played to determine seedings. However the 8 teams moving on from the qualifying round are known.

From pool A it will be Cuba and Japan. From pool B it is Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. From C pool it is the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The loser of their Sunday night game will take on the Americans on Tuesday night. Joining the USA from pool D will be Italy. They tangle with the winner of the Dominican- Puerto Rico game Tuesday afternoon.

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