Saturday night lights were shining brightly on The Black Nights of baseball and the way they propelled Team USA to an improbable 6-3 win over the mighty Dominican Republic to advance to the semifinals of The World Baseball Classic for just the second time in history.
The last meeting between these two diamond-mining powers in Miami was a heartbreaker for Team USA as it blew a 5-0 lead and lost 7-5 to a DR team, which at the time was riding an 11-game win streak and looked like a shoe-in for a second straight WBC title.
Black Knight Giancarlo Stanton said Team USA felt it should have won the first game and knew it was only a matter of time before they broke through on Saturday night.
“We know we had them in Miami,” Stanton said following the game “and we slipped up."
With Team USA trailing 2-0 and DR swinging heavy lumber and poised to bust the game wide open, Giancarlo Stanton changed the tide for the Americans with a majestic fourth-inning blast that even he admitted was reminiscent of his unprecedented Homer Derby bombs.
From there, Team USA took charge of a close game and was clinging to a 4-2 lead when Adam Jones, who homered in back to back nights, leaped into the stands and snatched a home run from his Orioles teammate Manny Machado. It was a grab for the ages and the most important play for Team USA in the history of the WBS to date.
"I knew the California air would slow the ball down,” said Jones who has performed magnificently in his hometown of San Diego, California this round. “ I just kept going and kept going ... the ball he hit was one of the hardest balls I've ever seen hit in my life "
Then Andrew McCutchen, the wily veteran, who is preparing for his new baseball life in Atlanta after eight seasons rebuilding the Pittsburgh franchise, finally left his mark on the 2017 WBC in the form of a loud, blistering double into the gap -- a McCutchen special -- that gave the United States a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Jones said he hopes this win will garner Team USA more support from American fans as they move onto LA to meet up with two-time WBC champion Japan and eventually hope to avenge its only loss to Puerto Rico in the championship game.
“We are trying to relive baseball here and get it back to the United States,” Jones insisted in a joyous postgame interview. "And this is a great stepping stone for it...
This is like the World Series I never been in one but I'm anticipating that this so close to it .. made me fee like a little kid all over again .. the Dominicans are a powerful team. I'm just happy that we are moving on.”