Saturday saw another upset in the 2023 World Baseball Classic as Team Colombia took down Team Mexico, 5-4, in 10 innings at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
Neither team could forge an advantage over the other, with each team holding leads only to see the other rally to force the game into extra innings.
Colombia pushed across the winning run when Mexico shortstop Luis Arias could not handle a bad hop on a chopper up the middle. It came off the bat of Gustavo Campero and scored Jorge Alfaro from third base.
Colombia trailed 1-0 heading into the fifth inning, but hung a three-spot on the board with two runs coming off Reynaldo Rodriguez’s home run. Mexico tied it back up on a Randy Arozarena homer in the bottom of the fifth to level the score at 3-3.
Both teams traded runs in the seventh, but that was it until the game headed into the 10th.
Not being lost in the offensive highlights is the work of Colombia’s fireballing reliever Guillermo Zuniga, who tossed two scoreless innings and claimed four strikeouts, including the final out of the game.
Colombia’s fans were predictably ecstatic after the win. Mexico entered the game as a fairly weighted favorite to claim the World Baseball Classic Pool C’s second knockout-round slot provided Team USA wins the pool as most expect (they are -500 according to DraftKings Sportsbook). Mexico was +400 to win the pool, with Colombia and Canada at +2,500.
Colombia will still need to bring their A-game for the remainder of the pool, especially for a now seeming critical Tuesday matchup against Team Canada. However, they control a far greater share of their own destiny than they did at the start of today’s game.
The loss hit Mexico hard. With a game coming up next against presumptive World Baseball Classic Pool C favorite Team USA, the winner of the Colombia/Mexico matchup has the inside track to claim the pool’s second knockout round berth. To the scores of Mexico fans that filled Chase Field for Saturday’s game, the realization is now that the inside track belongs to Colombia.
The World Baseball Classic is fantastic and everything, but it’s still just games.
Great Britain up next for Colombia in World Baseball Classic
The victorious Colombians get a day off to bask in their opening-round win. Up next for Colombia is a matchup against World Baseball Classic debutant Great Britain on Monday.