Team USA raps 17 hits in win over Italy
Rangers prospect Smoak contributes two homers, four RBIs
Team USA clinched a spot in the final round of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup on Saturday, but that didn't stop it from unleashing an offensive assault against Italy when second-round play continued on Sunday.
The U.S., led by Rangers prospect Justin Smoak, cranked out 17 hits, and seven players registered multihit games en route to a 12-3 thrashing of Italy, one of the two host countries of the second round.
Smoak led the charge -- as he's done throughout most of the tournament -- with two home runs and four RBIs.
The 22-year-old switch-hitting first baseman gave his team a three-run lead in the top of the third with a three-run homer. Then he kicked off a three-run fifth inning that eventually allowed the U.S. to pull ahead, 8-3, with a solo shot.
Also putting up multihit games for Team USA were Buck Coats (Blue Jays), Trevor Plouffe (Twins) -- who now has an eight-game hitting streak -- Jon Weber (Rays), Pedro Alvarez (Pirates), Jason Castro (Astros) and Tug Hulett (Royals).
Right-hander Lucas Harrell, from the White Sox organization, pitched three no-hit innings of relief to get the win.
Team USA is now 6-0 in the second round and 8-1 overall. It will have one more second-round game, on Sunday against Australia, before beginning play of the third and final round -- exclusively in Italy -- on Tuesday.
A champion of the eight-team final round will be crowned next Sunday.
In addition to the U.S., the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Venezuela, Canada and Chinese Taipei have locked up spots.
In other Sunday action, Puerto Rico stormed past Nicaragua in seven innings, 16-0; Cuba defeated the Netherlands, 5-3; Venezuela beat Great Britain, 6-1; South Korea edged Spain, 2-1; Australia one-upped Mexico, 6-5; Canada sneaked by Chinese Taipei, 5-3, in six innings; and Japan routed Netherlands Antilles, 10-1.
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.