PHOENIX — Kyle Schwarber launched a three-run homer, Nolan Arenado had three hits and two RBIs, and the United States overcame a slow start to beat Great Britain 6-2 on Saturday night in the World Baseball Classic opener for both teams.
Trayce Thompson put Britain up 1-0 in the first inning with a homer off Adam Wainwright that just cleared the left-center wall.
Thompson — who plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers — is one of the few players on Britain’s roster with big league experience.
Thompson’s drive briefly put a damper on the mood for the crowd of 39,650 at Chase Field, but the Americans weren’t down long.
The U.S. grabbed a 2-1 lead in the third and then broke the game open in the fourth on Schwarber’s shot that landed in the stands near the swimming pool that sits behind the right-center fence at Chase Field.
In Tokyo, Shohei Ohtani had another RBI double, 21-year-old right-hander Roki Sasaki reached 100 mph 21 times in 66 pitches and Japan beat the Czech Republic 10-2 on Saturday night to clinch a quarterfinal berth.
Shugo Maki hit his second home run of the tournament and new Boston Red Sox outfielder Masataka Yoshida had three RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in the third inning off loser Ondrej Satoria as the Samurai Warriors overcame a 1-0 deficit.
Ohtani went 1 for 3 with a walk before a crowd of 41,637 in the Tokyo Dome, leaving for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. He is 5 for 10 with three doubles, four RBIs and five walks for Japan (3-0), which has one more group game and will host a quarterfinal on Wednesday or Thursday. He also has pitched four scoreless innings.
Sasaki struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings and got the win. He allowed an unearned run, two hits and two walks.
Sasaki threw the 16th perfect game in Japanese major league history in April, then pitched eight perfect innings in his next start before being pulled after 102 pitches. He went 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA for the Pacific League’s Chiba Lotte Marines last year, striking out 173 in 129 1/3 innings.
In the opener, Rixon Wingrove had four RBIs as Australia (2-0) won in a 12-2 rout of China (0-3) in a game shortened to seven innings by the 10-run mercy rule.
In Group B at Taichung, Boston’s Yu Chang hit a tiebreaking, second-inning grand slam that lifted host Taiwan (2-1) to a 9-5 win over the Netherlands (2-1), and Panama (2-2) won 2-0 over Italy (1-2).
In the first game of Group C in Phoenix, Colombia beat Mexico 5-4 in 10 innings when Jorge Alfaro scored on an error by shortstop Luis Urias.
Also, Puerto Rico beat Nicaragua 9-1 and Venezuela topped the Dominican Republic 5-1 in Miami.