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World Baseball Classic: Team USA advances to quarterfinals with win over Colombia

Mike Trout had all three RBIs for the Americans

United States' Mike Trout celebrates after hitting a two-run single against Colombia during the fifth inning of a World Baseball Classic game in Phoenix, Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Mike Trout pulled Team USA to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Team USA is through to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic with a 3-2 win over Colombia on Wednesday, making up for a major stumble against Mexico with back-to-back wins.

The Americans finish second in Pool C at 3-1, tied with Mexico but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker. They will face Venezuela in the quarterfinals Saturday in Miami (FS1).

U.S. captain Mike Trout came through with all three of his team's RBIs, going 3-for-4 with a triple on the night. The go-ahead hit came in the fifth inning, with the Los Angeles Angels star knocking in Will Smith and Mookie Betts to give USA a 3-2 lead.

The American bullpen held it down from there, with Kendall Graveman, Daniel Bard, David Bednar, Jason Adam, Devin Williams and Ryan Pressly all throwing scoreless innings after starter Merrill Kelly allowed two runs in the third.

Advancing to the quarterfinals might've seemed inevitable given the strength of the U.S. lineup, but the defending champions were in a tenuous position after a rough 11-5 loss to Mexico in their second game. The U.S. found itself needing to beat both Canada and Colombia, with a bizarre tiebreaker looming if they lost Wednesday.

Team USA reaches the World Baseball Classic bracket

The U.S. was the final team to make the bracket portion of the WBC, closely following Puerto Rico after its upset win over the Dominican Republic in a de facto elimination game earlier Wednesday.

Pool A winner Cuba has already advanced to the semifinals with a win over Pool B runner-up Australia. Pool B winner Japan will face Pool A runner-up Italy, and Mexico will face Pool D runner-up Puerto Rico. As things stand, the U.S. would face Cuba if it gets past Venezuela.

Venezuela, led by MLB stars Jose Altuve and Ronald Acuña Jr., figures to be a tougher challenge than anything the U.S. saw in pool play, and the safety net that saved the Americans after the Mexico loss is now gone.

The win Wednesday vs. Colombia means the U.S. continues its streak of advancing out of pool play, which it has done in every World Baseball Classic since the inaugural 2006 tournament. But all those MLB All-Stars likely agreed to play with a back-to-back championship in mind, and now things are about to get more difficult.