MLB

Team Mexico, fans electrify Chase Field in World Baseball Classic win over US

Mar 13, 2023, 12:27 AM

Joey Meneses #32 of Team Mexico flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against Team USA d...

Joey Meneses #32 of Team Mexico flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against Team USA during the fourth inning of the World Baseball Classic Pool C game at Chase Field on March 12, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Team Mexico thrived in an electric atmosphere at Chase Field during its World Baseball Classic showdown vs. the United States on Sunday night.

Mexico, fresh off an extra-innings loss to Colombia to open the tournament, blew away the U.S. 11-5 in front of a sold-out crowd filled with red, green and white.

The win moved Mexico to 3-1 all-time against Team USA, and Washington Nationals infielder Joey Meneses joined Adrian Gonzalez and Jorge Cantu as a hero of this rivalry.

He belted two home runs, both clobbered at 102 and 109 mph off the bat. Meneses — a 30-year-old rookie last season after 10 years in the minors — heard “MVP” chants raining down.

“I have no words to describe it,” Meneses said postgame. “It was a very beautiful sensation with a lot of adrenaline with the stadium full. … It’s something I’ll never forget.”

Meneses finished Sunday 3-for-5 with five RBIs.

Mexico jumped on the U.S. early with a rocket single by Randy Arozarena and two-run homer by Meneses in the top of the first off RHP Nick Martinez.

Team USA never tied the game, as Mexico put up five runs in the third and fourth innings capped by a three-run blast by Meneses to bring the score to 7-1.

“He had a hell of a game tonight, he really did,” U.S. manager Mark DeRosa said postgame.

“Got some pitches over the heart of the plate. That’s the thing; it’s early in spring. You’re trying to execute a pitch down and away, you leave it middle of the plate in a packed house. Guys are jacked up. And he caught two of them.”

The U.S. struggled to get outs, and its defense left plays to be made despite not committing any ruled errors.

Mexico led by as many as 11-2, threatening the end the game in the eighth inning via a 10-run mercy.

Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Alek Thomas came up against Milwaukee Brewers closer Devin Williams and hit a screamer caught at second to strand two runners.

The U.S. showed some life in the eighth with three runs, but that was the first time “USA, USA” chants were noticeable in hours.

Team USA’s lineup of MLB All-Stars could not keep up with 15 Mexico hits.

Arozarena and Rowdy Tellez each went 3-for-5 with two RBIs.

“This is up there with one of the greatest nights of my baseball career, for sure,” Mexico starting pitcher Patrick Sandoval said after allowing one run in three innings.

“The camaraderie with the team, the emotion we play with, the hustle, the heart. It’s incredible. It’s really fun to be in that dugout.”

Fans piled in as soon as the gates opened, and 90 minutes prior to first pitch, the park was starting to fill up.

Once the game started, it had a playoff feel with 47,534 people and seldom moments lacking enthusiasm.

Mexico fed off it and needed to. Saturday’s loss was huge in a group stage with only four games, and a second defeat could have proven insurmountable.

“I’ve never played with so many fans inside the stadium,” Arozarena said.

“I’ve never played in an atmosphere like that,” Sandoval added.

The U.S. may be in some trouble and needs to bounce back Monday against Canada.

Canada is 1-0 after an 18-8 win over Great Britain on Sunday, and Monday is a massive opportunity for both squads to establish themselves in position to advance.

First pitch is at 7 p.m.

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Team Mexico, fans electrify Chase Field in World Baseball Classic win over US