Team USA Tops Venezuela Behind Trea Turner’s Grand Slam at World Baseball Classic

Trea Turner of the United States hits a grand slam during the eighth inning of a 2023 World Baseball Classic Quarterfinal game against The United States at loanDepot park on March 18, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

MIAMI- Trea Turner captured a win for Team USA with a dramatic late inning grand slam to beat Venezuela 9-7 in the World Baseball Classic quarterfinal.

The win gives the United States with Cuba with a trip to the championship game on the line.  The United States improved their record to 3-1 head-to-head against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. 

Loan Depot Park was electric, with Venezuelan fans packing the stadium and making it feel as though the game was being playing in Caracas. 

United States manager Mark DeRosa gave the ball to starting pitcher Lance Lynn during last night’s single elimination quarterfinals, and Lynn went four innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, walking one batter, and striking out two.

In the top of the first inning, the United States got on the board when Mike Trout singled. Venezuela center fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. fielded the ball cleanly, but as he attempted to cut down Mookie Betts at third, the throw went off Betts and trickled into the dugout, and Betts awarded home for first run of the game.  The next batter, Paul. Goldschmidt, singled to right field, with Trout coming in to score to put Team USA up 2-0. 

A few batters later, Kyle Tucker singled to center field, but Tucker tried stretching a single to a double and was thrown out at second base on a call that was eventually over turned by instant replay with. Goldschmidt came in to score to extend the American lead to 3-0. 

Venezuela manager Omar Lopez took starting pitcher Martin Perez out the game, having retired just one batter and allowed five hits and three earned runs. 

In the bottom of the first inning, Venezuela got on the board as Luis Arraez launched a two-run home run to right field to cut the deficit to 3-2. 

During the top of the fourth inning, Betts helped Team USA extend their lead again with a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Kyle Schwarber. 

In the top of the fifth inning, USA grabbed a three-run lead when Tucker drove a solo home run over the right field wall to take a 5-2 lead. 

During the bottom of the fifth inning, United States relief pitcher Daniel Bard entered the game replacing Lynn. Bard was wild, finding the strike zone just seven times in 17 pitches, facing four batters, walking two, allowing one hit and hitting Venezuela second baseman Jose Altuve with a pitch that knocked him out of the game with a hand injury.

Venezuela inched back into the game, as Gleyber Torres scored on a wild pitch during Antony Santander’s at-bat to cut the deficit to two runs at 5-3.  Bard was taken out of the game by DeRosa as relief pitcher Jason Adam entered the game. 

The next batter, Luis Arraez, grounded into a force play at second base and Andres Gimenez came in to score to make it 5-4.  Salvador Perez then helped Venezuela tie the game up at five apiece, doubling to left field, scoring Luis Rengifo. Ronald Acuna then drove a sacrifice fly to center field, and Arraez scored to put Venezuela up 6-5. 

In the bottom of the seventh inning, Arraez drove a solo home run off the right field foul pole to take a 7-5 lead. 

During the top of the eighth inning, the United States three batters of the inning, Tim Anderson, Peter Alonso, and J.T. Realmuto, all reached base, putting Trea Turner to the plate with no outs and the bases loaded. Turner drove a grand slam over the left field pavilion as Anderson, Bobby Witt Jr., and Realmuto came in to score as the United States took the lead 9-7. 

“I think individually I think this is probably the biggest hit that I’ve had,” Turner said. “And individually probably right up there with any hit I’ve ever had. But as a team I think you set a goal. And we want to win the whole thing.”

In the bottom of the ninth inning, DeRosa called upon closer Ryan Pressly to shut the door for the United States. Pressley silenced the bats of the Venezuela offense 1-2-3, getting Anthony Santander to pop up in foul territory to third baseman Nolan Arenado for the final out of the game.

Team USA will have Adam Wainwright take the mound Sunday against Cuba with a berth in the World Baseball Classic championship on the line. Cuba manager Armando Johnson announced Roenis Elias as the starting pitcher against the tough offensive lineup of the United States. The game is on Sunday at 7 p.m. in Miami on Fox Sports 1.

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