Great Britain entered the record books at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Monday, taking their first-ever victory in the history of the competition.
Team GB erased a three-run deficit at the top of the fourth to run out 7-5 winners over Colombia.
The South American team raced into an early lead thanks to RBI singles from Oscar Mercado and Dayan Frias (two-run RBI). However, Great Britain responded at the bottom of the fourth to tie the game. BJ Murray hit a sac fly to get GB on the board, then Chavez Young batted in a pair of runs, too.
In the following inning, Jaden Rudd put Great Britain ahead. The Toronto Blue Jays prospect nailed a go-ahead double that saw GB score two more runs, making the score 5-3.
Despite heading into the game as underdogs, Britain extended their remarkable lead in the seventh inning. The impressive Harry Ford – the top prospect in MLB franchise Seattle Mariners’ system – delivered a home run to put GB up 6-3. Finally, an errant pitch allowed Nick Ward to reach home plate.
Colombia did not go down without a fight, though. They rallied in the ninth as Dilson Herrera hit a home run to put them within touching distance. But Ian Gibaut managed to close out the game to earn Great Britain their first-ever World Baseball Classic win.
This will undoubtedly give the British team a much-need boost after a tough start to the WBC.
Great Britain: their World Baseball Classic so far
Prior to the win over Colombia, Team GB had received a real baptism of fire at their inaugural WBC. Their first two games at Baseball’s premier international tournament were the USA, then Canada.
Both these countries boast rosters that are full of Major League Baseball (MLB) stars, including former MVPs such as Mookie Betts (USA) and Freddie Freeman (Canada).
Therefore, it is unsurprising that Great Britain lost their first two World Baseball Classic games. A spirited effort saw GB lose 6-2 to America before a mercy-rule 18-8 defeat to Canada was disheartening.
But this victory in their latest Pool C match will provide optimism for their final game. On Tuesday night, Britain take on Mexico, where a win could prove crucial.
World Baseball Classic: the format
The WBC is essentially the World Cup of Baseball. It is an International Baseball Federation-sanctioned event, which works in partnership with all the major leagues across the world to allow players to represent their country.
Additionally, the winner of the tournament can declare themselves “World Champions”.
The 2023 edition of the tournament sees 20 teams compete in four groups of five nations. Each team plays four games against the other countries in their pool. From these games, the top two qualify for the quarterfinals, which then turn into a knockout format.
In Great Britain’s case, advancing from the Pool stage is off the table. However, they still have a crucial objective to play for. Third and fourth place in each pool receives automatic qualification for the next WBC, which is in 2026. If you finish bottom of your pool, you have to go through qualifiers to reach the 2026 World Baseball Classic.
So, not only was GB’s win over Colombia a landmark moment for British baseball, but it could also be important to their future. They will thus hope to follow the win up with a victory over Mexico to secure 2026 qualification.
Featured image credit: Getty