Alden GonzalezESPN Staff Writer11:08 PM ET2 Minute Read
MIAMI — Trea Turner didn’t jog to first base. He jumped. pranced. bent. roared. After his team was two down in the eighth inning of the World Baseball Classic quarterfinal game against Venezuela, the Philadelphia Phillies shortstop and Team USA catalyst unleashed an amazing Grand Slam and established the two-run lead that proved to be the final blow in an emotional game, back and forth 9-7 win at LoanDepot Park on Saturday night.
Team USA, champions at the last edition of the WBC in 2017, play Cuba in the semifinals on Sunday night.
The USA started the game with a five-goal streak against Texas Rangers left-hander Martin Perez, taking an early lead by three runs. After Venezuela reduced the deficit to one with a two-run homer from Luis Arraez at the end of the first — his first of two — the US backed a couple of insurance runs to a solo home run from Kyle with a sacrificial fly from Mookie Betts in the fourth Tucker in the fifth.
And just after Venezuela grabbed their first lead with a fifth-team four-run bottom — the result of a disastrous performance by Daniel Bard, who punched Jose Altuve in the right hand, forcing his exit and uncorking two wild pitches — Team The USA came back forever.
The USA filled the bases with no place at the top of eighth against left-hander Jose Quijada, who handed a walk to Tim Anderson, a single to pinch hitter Pete Alonso and a hit by pitch to JT Realmuto. Turner, the $300 million shortstop who hits ninth in that lineup, was up next, prompting Venezuela coach Omar Lopez to turn to right-hander Silvino Bracho. Bracho started the count from 0-2 but missed a substitution just above the heart of the plate and Turner put it down 407 feet to left field.
Most of Turner’s Team USA teammates had spilled out of the dugout when the baseball landed. Shortly thereafter, a sold-out crowd erupted in celebration. It was the first time all night that US cheers drowned out cheers for Venezuela.
In the ninth, as Ryan Pressly navigated a parade, the chants of “USA” filled the air.