Marco Scutaro gave all of his fans – The Venezuelan fans and the Blue Jay fans – something to cheer about Wednesday night, leading the team to a 5-3 victory over the USA in the Pool C final.
Scutaro came to the plate in the top of the sixth with one out and runners in scoring position. The Jays shortstop hit a single scoring both runs, giving Venezuela a 4-1 lead it would not relinquish.
Scutaro was not done there, however. David Wright led off the bottom of the sixth for the US and hit a ball to the right side of the infield. Scutaro, playing second base, made a sliding play to his left, taking away a sure hit from Wright and recorded the first out of the inning.
With a two-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, Venezuela went with their ace out of the bullpen. Single season save record holder Francisco Rodriguez came in to shut the door on the Americans. Working in his third game already in the tournament, K-Rod allowed leadoff man Jimmy Rollins to reach second base but shut down the USA from there to earn the save.
Chris Iannetta pulled the American’s within two runs in the bottom of the eighth with a monster two-run home run off of Orber Moreno. The ball hugged the left field line before landing in the second deck just inside the foul pole cutting the Venezuelan lead to 5-3.
The Blanco connection gave the Venezuelan club a 2-1 lead at the halfway point of the game. First, Catcher Henry Blanco doubled and two batters later, leadoff man Gregor Blanco hit a pitch from Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) off of the base of the centre field wall scoring Henry, with Gregor ending up with a triple.
Ryan Braun tied the game up for the Americans in their half of the fourth with a clutch two out double, which painted the right field foul line, scoring Derek Jeter from second.
Henry Blanco started the scoring in the top of the third when he led off the inning with a solo home run to left field off of the American starter – and former Blue Jay – Ted Lilly, giving Venezuela a 1-0 lead.
The win, earned by Jan Granado (1-0) avenges an embarrassing loss by Venezuelan at the hands of the Americans Sunday night, when they were beat 15-6. Venezuela earns the top seed coming out of Pool C and earns the right to play the Pool D runner up – the surprising Netherlands team – in the first set of games in round two, beginning in Miami on Saturday.
The United States will face the Pool D winner, Puerto Rico in their first game in Miami. Puerto Rico went 3-0 on their way to winning Pool D, surrendering only one run in the three games combined.
Game Notes: The United States were the home team in all three games they played in round one…A crowd of 12,358 was on hand for the game…Henry Blanco was a triple shy of the cycle…Gregor Blanco was just a home run shy of the cycle…Ryan Braun went 3-4 in the game.