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Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Andre Fernandez

Trea Turner’s grand slam rallies Team USA past Venezuela and into WBC semis

MIAMI — Trea Turner spent some of his teenage years hitting home runs about 60 miles north of loanDepot park.

The graduate of Park Vista High in Lake Worth, Fla., has hit seven at the ballpark during his major league career.

But none likely as memorable as the one he hit on Saturday night.

Turner’s go-ahead grand slam in the top of the eighth inning saved the United States from elimination and ultimately lifted it to a thrilling 9-7 comeback win over Venezuela in a World Baseball Classic quarterfinal.

Turner’s 407-foot blast off Venezuela reliever Silvino Bracho, which landed in the seats above the left-field bar area of loanDepot park, sent the bulk of the USA fans in a sell-out crowd of 35,792 into a frenzy. Those fans’ noise level was only slightly lower than the larger contingent of Venezuela fans, who erupted whenever they had something to celebrate throughout the back-and-forth contest.

The U.S., which won its first WBC the last time it was held in 2017, advanced to the semifinals on Sunday where it will face Cuba at 7 p.m. Japan and Mexico will play the other semifinal on Monday at 7 with the winners squaring off for the tournament championship on Tuesday at 7.

Turner’s blast came after the U.S. loaded the bases with no outs against former Marlins reliever Jose Quijada when he walked Tim Anderson, allowed a pinch-hit, bloop single to right to Pete Alonso and hit J.T. Realmuto with a pitch.

Following Turner’s heroics, the U.S.’s bullpen did the rest as Devin Williams worked around a leadoff double by Ronald Acuna Jr. in the eighth by striking out David Peralta and Eugenio Suarez and inducing a line out by Gleyber Torres. Ryan Pressly then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to pick up the save.

The U.S. got off to a great start at the plate, hitting five consecutive singles to open the game that produced three runs and chased Venezuela starter Martin Perez, who only had one out to his credit when Kyle Tucker was thrown out trying to advance to second after he drove in Paul Goldschmidt for USA’s third run. Tucker went 3 for 5 with a home run and two RBIs.

Venezuela answered in the bottom half when one of the newest Miami Marlins, Luis Arraez, crushed a two-run home run 377 feet to right field to cut the United States’ lead to 3-2.

Arraez would hit another home run in the seventh inning on a 351-foot blast that hit the pylon located just inside and behind the right field foul pole.

Arraez became the first Venezuelan player to hit multiple home runs in a World Baseball Classic game.

Prior to that, Venezuela scored four runs on only two hits in the bottom of the fifth, taking advantage of USA reliever Daniel Bard’s struggles to take a 6-5 lead.

Bard walked Torres then gave up an infield single to Andres Gimenez on a slow bouncer that got past the mound. Bard then hit Jose Altuve on the right hand, knocking him out of the game after a wild pitch moved Torres and Gimenez to second and third. Another wild pitch allowed Torres to score. Bard then walked Anthony Santander prompting U.S. manager Mark DeRosa to replace him with Jason Adam.

After another run scored on a fielder’s choice grounder to short right field by Arraez, Salvador Perez lined a double to left to tie the game at 5. Acuna Jr. followed with a sacrifice fly to deep center to give Venezuela its first lead of the game.

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