USA 17, SOUTH AFRICA 0 (5 INNINGS, MERCY RULE)
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (Ticker) -- After a day of uncertainty about their future, Ken Griffey Jr. and the rest of Team USA left nothing to chance. Griffey homered twice and Roger Clemens struck out six in 4 1/3 innings as the United States clinched the final berth in the second round of the World Baseball Classic with a 17-0 thrashing of overmatched South Africa. Derrek Lee also homered and Alex Rodriguez and Chase Utley had three hits apiece for the Americans (2-1), who joined Mexico as the qualifiers out of Pool B. Both countries will be joined by Korea and Japan from Pool A in Anaheim, California in the second round from March 12-16. "We have an obligation to get these players ready for their respective teams when they go back, and I think that was a concern early on," USA manager Buck Martinez said. "I think that now we've all been through this first round, I think we know that our goal is to win this tournament. I will use players according to the game situations." A heavy favorite in Pool B with a team comprised of major league stars, Team USA was in danger of getting eliminated after Wednesday's stunning 8-6 loss to Canada. However, the United States controlled its own destiny after the Canadians dropped a 9-1 decision to the Mexicans on Thursday. "I was as on edge as anyone because we were backed in the corner a little bit," Clemens said. "I don't care who it is you're facing in this tournament. As you've seen already, anything can happen." The Americans made sure that there would not be another upset against South Africa (0-3) by scoring four runs in the first inning and six in both the second and third. "Our biggest thing is we didn't know if it was going to be our last game or not," said Griffey, who finished with seven RBI. "So we just said as a team we're going to go out there and have some fun and try to put as much pressure on them as we can and let (Clemens) do his thing." Rodriguez opened the scoring with a two-run double off South African starter Carl Michaels and Lee followed with a two-run blast two batters later. Griffey hit three-run blasts in each of the next two frames as Team USA broke open the game. It was more than enough for Clemens, who extended his Hall of Fame career by at least one game. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner, who has not decided whether he will return for a 23rd major league season, allowed just one hit. The South Africans applauded "The Rocket" when he was removed from the game with one out in the fifth. "He's my hero," said South Africa pitcher Jared Elario, who pitched a scoreless fifth. "I hope to see (him pitch) again, but it's a good experience." Mike Timlin and Chad Cordero recorded the final two outs before the mercy rule was invoked. "I wouldn't want it to be a demoralizing experience for the boys because young men's egos are fragile," South Africa manager Rick Magnente said. "But given an opportunity to allow all the players to participate today, that would have been my goal."