The United States is headed to its first World Baseball Classic final.
The United States defeated Japan 2–1 in the World Baseball Classic semifinal on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to advance to its first WBC championship game.
The U.S. will play Puerto Rico on Wednesday night for the title. Neither team has previously won a World Baseball Classic title.
Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen put the U.S. on the board first with an RBI single in the fourth inning that allowed Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich to score the first run of the game. Japan tied the game in the bottom of the sixth inning with a solo home run by Ryosuke Kikuchi.
Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, who has come up clutch for the U.S. throughout the tournament, put the Americans ahead in the to of the eighth inning by grounding out by allowing Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford to score on the fielder's choice.
Washington Nationals right-handed pitcher Tanner Roark started the game for the U.S. and pitched four scoreless innings with two hits allowed, one walk and one strikeout. U.S. manager Jim Leyland used Nate Jones (Chicago White Sox), Andrew Miller (Cleveland Indians), Sam Dyson (Texas Rangers), Mark Melancon (San Francisco Giants) and Pat Neshek (Philadelphia Phillies) out of the bullpen. Neshek got out of a jam with two men on and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to preserve the one-run lead.
Puerto Rico advanced to the final with a 4–3 walk-off win over the Netherlands on Monday night. Puerto Rico finished as the tournament's runner-up to the Dominican Republic in 2013. Puerto Rico has not lost in this year's WBC and looks to match the Dominican Republic's undefeated 8-0 run from four years ago.
Tuesday night's victory by the U.S. ensures that Japan will not add a third trophy to its collection, which includes wins from the 2006 and 2009 tournaments.
- Chris Chavez