Baseball fans would be hard-pressed to find a better storyline than that of Great Britain’s triumphant win over Spain in the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic.
After a week of mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth, Great Britain took the field against the favorited Spanish team. Spain was in control of the game for nine innings, as the team looked to push past the qualifying round and make the tournament for the first time since 2013. However, Great Britain was able to get the bats going, with Toronto prospect Jaden Rudd coming up big with a game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth.
The game would go into extra innings, where Pirate’s prospect Tahnaj Thomas threw a shutout in the top half of the 10th inning, showing off his incredible arm speed and athleticism on the mound. That pitching performance put Great Britain in a great spot, as they were able to win the game on a sacrifice fly from Alex Crosby.
This win would propel the British team into a frenzy of emotions as the team qualified for the tournament for the first time in team history, while also marking a proud moral victory as the team circled the field and joined together to sing God Save the King and planting the Union Jack in victory.
For the Pittsburgh pitcher Thomas, this was a great way to fine tune some of his pitching mechanics and play on a bigger stage with stiffer competition, and he showed bright spots earlier in the tournament as well. Thomas was picked up by Cleveland in 2016 out of the Bahamas where he originally was an outfielder who pitched on occasion. His incredible arm strength would find him getting more work on the mound, and as a member of the Pirates’ organization in 2018. Thomas has since had his ups and downs on the mound, playing more as a reliever, but may see more starts to further develop his pitching.
Tahnaj Thomas may still be a long way away from being a permanent fixture in Pittsburgh, but he has undoubtedly proven himself with several strong performances on the British team and helping propel them to their first appearance in the World Baseball Classic.