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Trea Turner’s grand slam sends USA into World Baseball Classic semifinals

Mookie Betts singled, scored, drove in a run in win over Venezuela

World Baseball Classic Quarterfinals: United States v Venezuela Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

Old friend Trea Turner hit a grand slam in the eighth inning, lifting the United States over Venezuela 9-7 in Saturday night’s electric World Baseball Classic quarterfinal matchup at loanDepot Park in Miami.

Angels left-hander José Quijada helped Venezuela escape a jam in the seventh inning, striking out Kyle Tucker looking to preserve a two-run advantage, but Quijada ran into trouble to start the eighth, loading the bases with nobody out.

In came righty Silvino Bracho, setting the stage for this:

Turner’s grand slam was the final shift in a back-and-forth contest. Team USA led 3-0 and 5-2, but Venezuela rallied to lead 7-5, thanks in large part to two home runs by Luis Arraez, the Marlins infielder who won a batting title last year with the Twins. Arraez in 2022 hit eight home runs in 603 plate appearances.

Mookie Betts got the first of five straight singles by the United States to start the game. When Mike Trout blooped a single to short right center, Betts briefly held up in case the ball might be caught, but then bolted for third base. The aggression paid off, as Ronald Acuña Jr.’s throw from center field bounced and hit off a sliding Betts and into the third base dugout, allowing Betts to score and Trout to advance to third.

Venezuela starter Martin Pérez was pulled after allowing hits to all five batters he faced, though he was credited with a third of an inning because Kyle Tucker was thrown out at second base after hitting the last of U.S. singles in the inning, preventing Venezuela’s 3-0 deficit from mushrooming any further.

A two-run home run by Arraez in the bottom of the first off Lance Lynn cut the USA lead to one, and set the tone for a tense and raucous game the rest of the way.

Betts also got an assist in the second inning, thanks to the worst part of replay reviews, when Eugenio Suárez was ruled out for coming off second base by a millimeter during a pop-up slide. Whether the out should have counted or not, it was a tremendous throw from right field by Betts.

In the top of the fourth, Betts flew out to center for a sacrifice fly and his first run batted in during the tournament, doubling the United States advantage.

David Peralta singled in four at-bats for Venezuela on Saturday, and also robbed Paul Goldschmidt of a hit in the fifth inning with a diving catch in left field.

It was a good WBC for Peralta, who started four of five games. He had five hits in 14 at-bats, including two doubles plus three walks during the tournament, and reached base in eight of his 17 plate appearances.

With the win, the U.S. is in the semifinal round for the third time in five World Baseball Classics, having won the tournament in 2017 and finished fourth in 2009.

Team USA will take on Cuba on Sunday night in the first semifinal (4 p.m. PT, FS1). Mexico plays Japan in the second semifinal on Monday, with the championship game coming Tuesday night.