Eric Hosmer launched a go-ahead two-run home run in helping to lead the United States to a 4-2 comeback victory over Venezuela in Wednesday's World Baseball Classic showdown.
Then came the eighth inning, with Venezuela holding a 2-1 lead and Hector Rondon entering the game. On the other side, Drew Smyly struck out 8 over 4.2 innings for Team USA, allowing an unearned run on three hits (it was one of those where the run should've been earned anyway, considering Smyly was the one to commit the error). He had to work out of a bases-loaded jam in the third but was otherwise sharp, striking out three and walking none in five scoreless innings. But Rougned Odor hit one so hard off of Team USA reliever David Robertson that it cleared the right field wall in the seventh inning, making it 2-0.
At first, however, Venezuela players thought they were the team that had been knocked out.
He walked Miguel Cabrera with one out, but then Victor Martinez hit the ball to the right side and into the shift, where third baseman Nolan Arenado had moved to and the U.S. completed an easy 5-6-3 double play. There were zero RBI hits despite six at-bats with runners in scoring position. Ender Inciarte's sacrifice fly brought home Gonzalez, but there would be no further damage.
Bregman was ready to make an impact after getting just one at-bat before Wednesday.
In the home half of the inning, the Americans were happy to see Hernandez exit the game and looked to get to work against his replacement, Deolis Guerra. His only real blemish was a throwing error, that ended up leading to Venezuela's first run. However, Venezuelan reliever Jose Castillo entered to strike out Yelich and Nolan Arenado to keep the USA off the board.
Venezuela will be back in action again Thursday against the Dominican Republic, which also lost its first game in the pool.
Team USA starts the second round with a 1-0 record, which is pretty big considering they play surging Puerto Rico on Friday and the Dominican Republic on Saturday.