7: 38 AM UTC
PHOENIX – It all comes down to the final game of Pool C play.
The United States and Colombia meet in a contest that will be jam-packed with implications for who will advance to the quarterfinals in Miami.
With the expectation of becoming back-to-back Classic winners, Team USA spent the last few months assembling a roster of nearly unprecedented star power. Failing to advance out of the group stage would be a significant blow. The club has the advantage of having had Tuesday off while Colombia battled against Canada.
After an upset win in the first game of Pool C, Colombia has dropped back-to-back contests. Pitcher José Quintana, who was originally expected to be a significant member of the club but is sidelined until at least July, texted with the team Tuesday in an effort to keep their spirits up and urge them to continue pushing toward their goal of advancement.
Here is what you need to know about Wednesday’s pivotal matchup:
When and where: 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Chase Field in Phoenix.
How you can watch: The game between the United States and Colombia will air live on FS1. Games are available on FOX, FS1, FS2, Tubi or FOX Deportes, and every game can be streamed online in the FOX Sports App. For international viewing options, click here.
How you can listen: Live audio coverage of all games will be carried on Sirius XM, TuneIn, MLB.com and in the MLB App.
What’s at stake: Things are cut and dry for Team USA: win and advance to the quarterfinals. Colombia needs a win in order to have a chance to advance, so expect manager Jolbert Cabrera to be aggressive in mixing and matching his staff against the star-studded American lineup. Conversely, a loss would be disastrous for the Colombians, as they would fail to qualify for the 2026 World Baseball Classic by virtue of finishing last in the group.
Matchup history: These clubs have met just once at the Classic, a 3-2 extra-inning victory for the U.S. during the group stage in 2017, which helped spur the team toward its first WBC crown. Had Colombia won that contest, it would have advanced instead of the Americans.
Nolan Arenado, 3B, Team USA: One of the two players to return from the 2017 Classic-winning squad, the seven-time All-Star has been a steady presence at the top of the U.S. order this go-round. He opened the offensive downpour Monday night, ripping a two-run double down the left-field line at 109.5 mph off the bat. Through three games, he has gone 4-for-11 with three doubles and four RBIs, while providing his usual exemplary defense at the hot corner.
“The environment is very similar to the playoff environments that I’ve been in,” Arenado said. “Wearing USA and having fans chanting that, it just hits a little bit different.”
Oscar Mercado, OF, Colombia: The Colombian bats have struggled to find consistency over their first three games, slashing .190/.243/.280 as a group. Mercado has gone 3-for-10 and played a solid center field, in addition to recording the club’s first steal attempt Tuesday. Now in the Cardinals’ organization, Mercado will be looking to utilize his experience on the global stage to help springboard him toward an Opening Day gig.