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."
 

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