Team USA is moving on to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic, and it can thank its biggest star, Mike Trout.
Trout, the Angels center fielder who is generally ranked among the world’s best players, looked every bit the part in a vital Group C game Wednesday against Colombia. Trout had three hits and drove in all three of Team USA’s runs in a 3-2 victory.
The result sends the U.S. against Group D champion Venezuela in a quarterfinal matchup that will be played Saturday night in Miami.
Trout took personal charge of ensuring that result Wednesday in Phoenix.
World Baseball Classic: United States 3, Canada 2
In the top of the third inning of a scoreless game, Trout delivered a two-out base hit that sent Mookie Betts home for a 1-0 U.S. lead.
Then in the fifth, with the U.S. trailing 2-1, Trout delivered again. After Will Smith walked and Betts singled and took second on the throw, Trout got a fat curve and slammed it into left, sending both runners across.
Trout had also tripled in the first, but he was stranded on third when Nolan Arenado grounded into an inning-ending double play.
Between them, Trout and Betts had five of team USA’s seven base hits. The offensive margin generated by Trout proved to be just enough for seven Team USA pitchers, who allowed Colombia six hits.
Three of those six hits came in the bottom of the third, when Colombia produced its only two runs. Facing Arizona Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly, Oscar Mercado doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly. Then with two outs, Jorge Alfaro singled and scored on Reynaldo Rodriguez’s double high off the wall in dead center.
The outcome wasn’t assured until closer Ryan Pressly struck out Jordan Diaz to end the game with the potential tying run on base.