Team USA has lived up to its pre-tournament hype as it cruised past Cuba, 14-2, to reach the final of the World Baseball Classic. However, the game was not without its disruptions as protestors entered the field of play in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings of the semifinal.
The game did not start as Team USA had hoped with Cuba looking to seize the initiative in the top of the first at Miami’s loanDepot Park.
With the bases loaded, no outs and one run already on the board, veteran pitcher Adam Wainwright had to use all his guile and know-how to help the US get out of the inning facing a one-run deficit.
Buoyed by their great escape, Team USA wrestled back control of the game when St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt crushed a two-run homer in the bottom of the first to give his team the lead.
After going ahead, the US never looked back – and the onslaught began.
Trea Turner had been the hero for the US in its last game. The Philadelphia Phillies shortstop had the “biggest hit” of his career with a go-ahead grand slam in a quarterfinal win against Venezuela and carried that form into the WBC semifinal.
The Phillies’ new recruit homered to deep left-field off a Roenis Elias fastball in the bottom of the second to keep the team’s momentum going.
Runs then continued to flow in abundance for Team USA throughout the game with almost every hitter contributing to the lopsided score in one way or another.
Turner’s incredible streak continued as he added his second homer of the game in the bottom of the sixth – the 29-year-old’s three-run homer giving the US a 12-2 lead.
Cedric Mullins’ solo shot to center-field eventually condemned Cuba to a 14-2 deficit and a heavy defeat in the semifinal.
Outside of play, during the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, the game was temporarily halted as protestors entered the field.
One protestor had a banner, reading: “Libertad Para Los Presos Cubanos del 11 de Julio (Freedom for the Cuban Prisoners of July 11).”
Speaking after the game, US manager Mark DeRosa was in awe of his team’s hitting display.
The 48-year-old said: “They’re swinging the bats good, they’re having fun being around each other, they’re passing the baton, they’re not having selfish ABs [at-bats], constant pressure.
“I’m blown away by the way these guys control the strike zone. Trea Turner’s in the zone right now, hitting everything he sees. [I was] able to get everybody in there, have some fun, relax.”
DeRosa’s team will now wait to see who it faces in the championship game with Japan and Mexico squaring off in the other semifinal on Monday.