American Trea Turner wins Grand Slam to beat Venezuela in WBC

MIAMI – It was loud. It was exhilarating. It was breathtaking.

It was pure heckling.

When the smoke cleared on Saturday night, the United States was dancing off the field, 9-7 winners over Venezuela, with a sold-out crowd of 35,792 still trying to make sense of what they had just witnessed.

The United States will now face Cuba on Sunday night (7ET, FOX) in the WBC semi-finals, sending the Venezuelan team home.

“We were the road team,” USA manager Mark DeRosa said. “We knew it would be crazy.”

It lived up to the hype, and, oh, so, so much more.

“I think that’s what the WBC is, man, like the passion,” DeRosa said. “I spent 1999 in Caracas playing for the Leones and loved every second of it. Not only did it make me a better player and prepare me for the big leagues, it gave me a better understanding of the passion of the Latin American ball player.

There was so much drama in this match, from start to finish, with every player on every team reaching base at least once, but the greatest success in WBC history in the States will forever be remembered. United: Trea Turner’s Grand Slam in the eighth round.

The United States seemed finished.

They lost 7-5, with Venezuela scoring five unanswered runs.

They were down to their last six outs when it started harmlessly enough with a walk from Tim Anderson. Then a bloop single from Pete Alonso. And then JT Realmuto was hit by a pitch.

Venezuelan coach Omar Lopez then made the decision that will be questioned in Venezuela for years, bringing in right-hander Silvino Bracho.

He immediately edged Turner with two strikes, then launched a fastball into the heart of the palace.

Turner sent over the fence, over the upper deck, onto a concrete pillar.

Turner danced around the bases and the United States dugout burst.

Just like that, the game rocked, in one of the most dramatic and exhilarating games ever played in this building, and perhaps in the history of the tournament.

It started with a bang when it took six batters before the United States made its first out, taking a 3-0 lead in the first inning.

Venezuela responded with a two-run homer from Miami Marlins first baseman Luis Arraez, his first of two home runs of the night, the first multi-home run game of his professional career.

It was that kind of night, with the United States seemingly slowly slipping away, until their nightmarish fifth inning almost sealed their fate, and perhaps a blow to World Series champion Houston Astros.

It all started when Colorado Rockies closest Daniel Bard replaced starter Lance Lynn in fifth, and it was nothing short of a disaster.

Gleyber Torres Walk.

Andres Gimenez single infield.

Wild location.

Jose Altuve, hit by the throw, leaving him withered in pain and leaving the game, the preliminary diagnosis being a broken right thumb.

Another wild land

Walk by Anthony Santander.

Bard was mercifully removed, replaced by Jason Adam, who barely warmed up, but the base-laden, no-exit jam was too much to overcome.

Arraez drove a one-pitch run, Salvador Perez drove another on a brace to tie the game, and Ronald Acuna sent the stadium into a frenzy with a sacrifice fly.

Just like that, USA’s 5-2 lead turned into a 6-5 deficit.

It went 7-5 in the 7th inning on another home run from Arraez, who earlier in the day said he felt like he was on Cloud 9, then hit a few home runs on the night.

“I’m dreaming,” Arraez said. “Right now, I’m dreaming.

“I’m here? I’m here? Yes.”

Well, at the end of the game, it was Team USA asking the same question, pinching each other, wondering if this was the greatest game they had ever played.

It was that kind of match, one of the most glorious and exhilarating nights of their lives.

Follow Nightengale on Twitter @Bnightengale

USA Today

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