US survives scare from Colombia in extra innings

Adam Jones of the United States hits a walk off single in the 10th inning during their Pool C game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic against Colombia

The United States survived a scare in their World Baseball Classic opener as they needed a walkoff single from Adam Jones to defeat Colombia 3-2 in 10 innings.

Jones went two-for-five at the plate and his game-winning single to left-centre field came off Colombia relief pitcher Guillermo Moscoso.

"I've had a lot of good moments with the (Baltimore) Orioles playing against Major League Baseball teams, but this one ranks up there pretty high," Jones said.

In the night game, TJ Rivera belted a two-run home run in the seventh inning as Puerto Rico cruised to an 11-0 mercy-rule victory over Venezuela in just seven innings.

Colombian southpaw pitcher Jose Quintana carried a no-hitter through five innings until Brandon Crawford belted a two out single to right field in the sixth in front of a crowd of 22,000 at Marlins Park.

Quintana, who plays for the Chicago White Sox, left the game but not before he recorded four strikeouts and walked just one batter.

Friday's performance doesn't bode well for the USA ahead of Saturday's highly-anticipated contest against defending champion Dominican Republic who boasts Major League Baseball stars like Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Manny Machado, Adrian Beltre and Jose Bautista on their roster.

The US didn't expect much of a struggle from Colombia, one of the lowest ranked teams in the tournament.

But for a time Friday, it seemed like Colombia's very green group of players might engineer their own "Miracle on the Diamond" by beating the mighty US in their first ever appearance in the 16-team international tournament.

"I tip my cap to Team Colombia. They played their tails off," Jones said.

"Quintana and their defence, they just impressed everybody. Hopefully the baseball in that country continues to grow and grow and grow, because they've got a bright future as a country with baseball."

Colombia, with a roster made up of mostly journeymen who lack big league experience, have just 80 players who play competitive baseball in the US.

This compares to the Americans who have over 600 players in Major League Baseball and 10 million youths playing the game.

But many of the USA's biggest names, such as Clayton Kershaw, Mike Trout and Kris Bryant, decided to skip the tournament much to the dismay of manager Jim Leyland. For that reason baseball's birthplace, the US, has never won the tournament.

The tournament's pitch limit rules forced Colombia to remove Quintana after five and two third innings and go to their bullpen and it didn't take long for the Americans to tie the contest 2-2.

Colorado Rockies player Nolan Arenado beat out a throw to first base on a strikeout wild pitch. He did it by diving into the bag allowing the game-tying run to score.

US starting pitcher Chris Archer threw four perfect innings, striking out three batters.

The competition concludes with the final at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on March 22.