The United States of America scored five runs in the fourth inning to snag a 6-1 win over Mexico in the WBSC Premier 12 semifinals. The win has placed them in the finals of the inaugural Premier 12 tournament against South Korea.
Humberto Sosa started the scoring off with a solo home run to give Mexico a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning over the United States. After the catcher crushed his home run, the United States fought back.
Tying the game at 1-1 in the home half of the inning was Adam Frazier (Pittsburgh Pirates), who opened the gates for a five run inning, which gave the U.S. a 5-1 lead. Dan Black (KT Wiz-KBO) scored the first run of the game as he knocked a double to help get things started.
In the fifth, Black reached base on an error with one out in the inning and was advanced to third by Frazier, who hit one back up the gut. Tyler Pastornicky (Philadelphia Phillies) added to the lead with a sacrifice fly to give the United States a 6-1 lead. Matt McBride (Colorado Rockies), Dan Rohlfing (New York Mets), Elliot Soto (Miami Marlins), Jacob May (Chicago White Sox), Black and Frazier all recorded hits in the half inning.
“The players played well today, however the U.S. team scored a lot of runs in one inning and we couldn’t recover from that,” Mexico’s manager, Mike Brito, said.
Frazier finished 3-for-4 with one RBI and a run scored in the victory over Mexico. He took home the Most Valuable Player award for the game with his key hit during the huge fourth inning. Mark Serrano took the loss for Mexico.
As expected, Zeke Spruill (Boston Red Sox), starting pitcher for the United States, was outstanding. He allowed one run on four hits and two walks through 5.0 innings pitched. Spruill added to winning effort with three strikeouts. Originally, Spruill was not suppose to pitch in the game. A minor-league free agent who pitched for Triple-A Columbus in 2015, Jarrett Grube (Cleveland Indians), was suppose to make the start, but was not able to make it happen, so Spruill took his place and pitched outstanding.
"I found out when I got to the field today that I was pitching," said Spruill. "Everyone's always ready to go whenever we get the opportunity. Willie told me I have the ball and I was ready to go."
Tossing three scoreless innings was Seth Simmons (Arizona Diamondbacks) in relief of Spruill. After his job was done, Simmons gave way to Jake Barrett (Arizona Diamondbacks). The right-handed pitcher shut the door and sent the U.S. to the Premier 12 Final
While the United States beat Mexico, South Korea stunned Japan with four runs in the ninth inning to win 4-3 in the semifinals.
The United States will face South Korea on Saturday morning at 5:00 AM ET, which is Saturday at 7:00 PM in Tokyo, Japan as the finale will be played at the Tokyo Dome. The winner will take home the gold medal and $1 million in prize money.
“They’re a good, solid team,” Brett Eibner (Kansas City Royals) said. “They beat Japan and they had a good game against us. It could’ve gone either way. We can’t take anything for granted. We’ve got to go out there and play hard, control what we can control and see what happens.”
At the same venue, Mexico will play Japan in the third-place game.
“We know the Japanese team is a very good team, but we are also a high quality team and we want to show that,” Sosa, the Mexican catcher, said.
Team USA will send right-handed pitcher Zack Segovia (Uni-Lions, CPBL) to the mound. The 32-year-old will be opposed by Kim Kwang-hyun, a left-handed 14-game winner of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) in 2015.
“Well I watched them last night and I was very impressed with the way the stuck to it and came back against Japan, they showed a lot of guts,” Team USA manager Willie Randolph said. “We played them a couple of games ago and had to go to a tiebreaker to beat them, so we know they’re a tough team.”