PHOENIX, Arizona – Trayce Thompson jumped on an 0-1 curveball for a solo shot over the left field wall for the first run of the game to give Great Britain a brief 1-0 lead.
The upset bid over a stacked USA roster looked good through two and a half innings.
Team USA scored five runs over the third and fourth innings to take a 6-2 win over Great Britain in the Pool C opener for both teams at the World Baseball Classic Saturday night at Chase Field.
Thompson added a double and finished the night 2-4 with a run and RBI. He became the 11th player to homer in his first career WBC appearance. That homer traveled 391 feet with a 99 mph exit velocity.
“We had some positives tonight. We obviously had some mistakes out there and when you have a lineup like [the USA] they’re going to take advantage of it. We just have to focus on that, try to win one pitch at a time.”
Despite the loss, Thompson said the group gained confidence from their performance against a team USA that started nine former All-Stars and two league MVPs.
“I think the guys in our locker room know that we can compete with anyone in this tournament now. Obviously these teams all have a lot of established talent but we can compete,” Thompson said, “We just have to take the good from this, come back in a few hours and get ready to come back and compete against a good Canada team.”
The Bahamian contingent on the Great Britain roster accounted for five of the team’s eight hits and both RBI.
“We were excited,” Great Britain manager Drew Spencer said. “That’s a great moment for us. We said for us to have a chance in this game we would need to strike early and we did. It built some confidence. People were excited that the game plan looked like it was working.”
Great Britain scored its second run of the game In the seventh inning when D’Shawn Knowles entered the game as a pinch hitter.
On a 2-2 pitch, Knowles drove a curveball over the head of Mookie Betts in right field, raced around the bases and eventually slid into third with a triple.
He celebrating by pretending to raise a cup of tea to his mouth with his pinky extended.
Anfernee Seymour followed with the next at bat when he drove in Knowles with a groundout to third.
Seymour finished 1-3 with an RBI, Knowles went 1-2 and Chavez Young finished 1-4.
Seymour also got the start at second base, his first game as an infielder in over a decade, but was flawless defensively with his glove.
He finished with seven assists in the field.
The USA took the lead for good in the bottom half of the third inning when Paul Goldschmidt reached on an error and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Nolan Arenado doubled on a groundball just inside the third base line to score Goldschmidt and tie the game. Kyle Tucker singled on a line drive to give USA a 2-1 lead. In the fourth, Kyle Scwarber blasted a three run home run to give his team a 5-1 lead. They added their final run when Arenado doubled again to score Goldschmidt in the sixth.
In a quick turnaround, Great Britain faces Canada in game two Sunday afternoon at 3pm (EST). Canada is projected to start Cal Quantrill of the Cleveland Guardians.