Team USA shining in World Cup play

Team USA shining in World Cup play

Team USA continued to roll on Monday, and it was thanks in large part to a player who's making a name for himself in Europe -- Justin Smoak.

During second-round play of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup, the U.S. improved to 4-1 with its fourth straight victory, an 11-1 rout of Netherlands Antilles at Stadio Gavignan in Verona, Italy.

Smoak, a switch-hitting infield prospect in the Rangers' farm system, had his second multi-homer game of the tournament, hitting two of Team USA's four long balls to move his club to 2-0 in the second round.

For the tournament, the 22-year-old is batting .444 with a team-leading five home runs and 12 RBIs.

Smoak also homered in the U.S.'s opening game of the tournament on Thursday against Venezuela, and that just so happened to be the last time his team lost. Since then, the U.S. has outscored its opponents -- consisting of Germany, China, Canada and Netherlands Antilles -- 36-2.

Dodgers' prospect Lucas May homered in the third to get Team USA on the board, and Jon Weber -- from the Rays' organization -- added another homer to begin a four-run fourth inning that eventually put the U.S. ahead, 5-1. Team USA then busted out six runs in the seventh, highlighted by Smoak's three-run shot to right field.

Starting left-hander Kasey Kiker, also from the Rangers' farm system, gave up just one run on one hit while striking out seven in four innings. Righty Lucas Harrell, a White Sox prospect, took it from there, giving up just one hit over the last three innings to get the win.

Team USA starters -- Kiker, Padres prospect Cory Luebeke, Angels prospect Trevor Reckling and Braves prospect Todd Redmond -- have combined to give up just one earned run on seven hits while striking out 35 in 26 2/3 innings.

No more than three runs decided four of the other six games during the second day of Round 2 play at the IBAF World Cup.

South Korea beat Great Britain, 15-5, in eight innings; Cuba got past Nicaragua, 4-1; the Netherlands edged out Puerto Rico, 5-2; Mexico sneaked past Italy, 6-3; and Australia outlasted Canada, 5-3, in 10 innings.

But perhaps the most intriguing game was one that didn't even end up being close.

In what's being considered the biggest upset of the IBAF World Cup thus far, Spain got past previously undefeated Venezuela -- the same Venezuela team that beat the U.S. in its opening game -- by an 8-1 score in Amsterdam. Padres prospect Eric Gonzalez and two other pitchers held Venezuela to six hits, and leadoff hitter Daniel Figueroa -- in the Orioles organization -- went 3-for-5 with three runs scored for previously 1-3 Spain, which took a 3-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back.

Round 2 play for the U.S. will continue on Tuesday, when it plays Japan in Macerata, Italy.

Second-round play, consisting of 16 teams, will last until Sunday. Team USA is situated in Group G, along with Italy, Australia, Canada, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Mexico and Netherlands Antilles.

The top eight teams in Round 2 will advance to the third and final round, which runs Sept. 22-27 exclusively in Italy.

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.