Team USA advances to quarterfinals with win over Colombia

Mike Trout pulled Team USA to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Team USA is through to the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic after a 3-2 win over Colombia on Wednesday, making up for a major stumble against Mexico with back-to-back wins.

The Americans will officially finish second in Pool C at 3-1, tied with Mexico but losing the head-to-head tiebreaker. They will face Venezuela in the quarterfinals in Miami on Friday (FS1).

U.S. captain Mike Trout came through with all three of his team’s RBIs, going 3-for-4 with a triple on the night. The go-ahead hit came in the fifth inning, with the Los Angeles Angels star knocking in Will Smith and Mookie Betts to take a 3-2 lead.

The American bullpen held it down from there, with Kendall Graveman, Daniel Bard, David Bednar, Jason Adam, Devin Williams and Ryan Pressly all throwing scoreless innings after starter Merrill Kelly allowed two runs in the third.

Advancing to the quarterfinals might have felt inevitable given the strength of the U.S. lineup, but the defending champions were in a tenuous position after a rough 11-5 loss to Mexico in its second game. The U.S. found itself needing to beat both Canada and Colombia, with a bizarre tiebreaker looming if they lost on Wednesday.

Team USA reaches the World Baseball Classic bracket

The U.S. was the final team to make the bracket portion of the WBC, closely following Puerto Rico after its upset win over the Dominican Republic in a de facto elimination game.

Pool A winner Cuba has already advanced to the semifinals with a win over Pool B runner-up Australia. Pool B winner Japan will face Pool A runner-up Italy, while Mexico will face Pool D winner Venezuela. As things stand, the U.S. would face Cuba if it gets past Venezuela.

Venezuela, led by MLB stars Jose Altuve and Ronald Acuña Jr., figures to be a tougher challenge than anything the U.S. saw in pool play, and the safety net that saved the Americans after the Mexico loss is now gone.

The Colombia win at least means the U.S. will continue its streak of advancing out of pool play, which it has done in every World Baseball Classic going back to the inaugural 2006 tournament. But all those MLB All-Stars likely agreed to play with a back-to-back championship in mind, and now things are about to get even harder.