Team USA wins World Baseball Classic opener with thrilling walkoff

·Yahoo Sports Contributor

Team USA opened the World Baseball Classic in thrilling fashion, topping Colombia 3-2 Friday night on Adam Jones walkoff single with two outs and two strikes in the tenth inning.

That marked the second walkoff win for Team USA in WBC history. David Wright provided the first in 2009 in a game also played in Miami. Jones’ hit helped Team USA overcome a slow start offensively and saved it from suffering a potentially devastating upset. A loss would have presented a daunting challenge with games against the Dominican Republic and Canada coming over the weekend.

In the end, Team USA proved resilient, making the path to advancing a little bit easier.

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The story of the game early was the starting pitching. Team USA’s Chris Archer and Colombia’s Jose Quintana set the tone with brilliant outings. Archer was removed after throwing four perfect innings. Quintana matched Archer up to that point and then surpassed him, carrying a no-hitter until Brandon Crawford’s two-out single in the sixth.

Once the starters were gone though, both offenses finally found some success. Colombia got on the board first, breaking up the hitless and scoreless game with three consecutive two-out doubles in the fifth inning. Jesus Valdez, Adrian Sanchez and Mauricio Ramos did the damage against reliever Mychal Givens, giving Colombia a 2-0 lead.

Brandon Crawford celebrates after scoring Team USA's first run. (AP)
Brandon Crawford celebrates after scoring Team USA’s first run. (AP)

Team USA broke through in the sixth immediately following Quintana’s exit. After Crawford’s single and another from Ian Kinsler, Adam Jones plated the first run with a ringing double. The tying run would score on a wild-pitch strikeout of Nolan Arenado, who beat the throw to first with a head-first slide.

Arenado was involved in another key play for Team USA, catching a liner and firing to first to end Colombia’s eighth-inning rally.

Aside from Jones’ two clutch hits, those were the two biggest moments that allowed Team USA to escape with a win.

Now the focus turns to the much anticipated matchup against the Dominican Republic on Saturday. The D.R. opened with an impressive 9-2 win against Canada on Thursday, so this sets up as a pivotal game for both teams as each angles for a spot in the second round. The loser will face a must-win on Sunday, while the winner is all but guaranteed a spot in Pool F.

First pitch on Saturday is scheduled for 6:30pm ET.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!