Teams from around the world are gathering in South Florida this weekend to play ball for the World Baseball Classic, and Team USA kicked things off with a big win.
Friday night, fans trickled out of Marlins Park in Miami after having witnessed Team USA prevail against Colombia in the tournament’s first game.
Those supporting the U.S. are pulling for their team after they defeated Colombia 3-2, and they hope they go on to win the tournament for the first time. “I just love baseball,” said Dan Grande, who traveled from New York. “This is like the Olympics of baseball.”
Dennis Hickey, who also traveled from New York, is also excited. “It’s a dream to come to the World Baseball Classic,” he said.
And everyone 7News spoke to has a favorite player, from Buster Posey to Giancarlo Stanton to Nolan Arenado.
Grande said this is the first time he’s made it to Miami. “Just came along, just booked it, winged it,” he said. “None of my friends are really big baseball fans, so I was like, ‘Oh, I’ll just do it.'”
Team USA is playing in two more games this weekend, against Dominican Republic and Canada. Whoever comes up on top will advance to the next round with the hopes of playing in the final championship in Los Angeles.
Kansas City Royals first baseman, Eric Hosmer, is a Miami native and came back to South Florida for the event. “I’m happy to be a part of it,” he said. “It’s fun. This is where the fun starts.”
Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich said playing in the tournament with other All-Stars is an honor. “I didn’t know we got paid at all, so I was in it just to put the USA jersey on and represent our country,” he said. “It’s an honor; it’s my first time.”
Team USA came away victorious against their South American rival, winning 3-2 in extra innings.
It was a nail-biting experience for some fans. “You think we’re gonna win, and then they mess it up, and then we got to keep going,” one fan said. “It’s kind of like — we watch the Marlins, and it felt like a Marlins game.”
The tournament is all about the fans, big and small. Now all players are hoping to bring back is a win.
“It was great, awesome atmosphere,” said Chris Bongon, a Team USA fan, after Friday’s win. “I’m glad Team USA pulled it off in the end.”
Tickets are still available for Friday and Sunday’s games, but Saturday’s game is all sold out. For more information, click here.
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