The race for the final spot in the 2023 World Baseball Classic quarterfinals are coming down to the last day of pool play and, thanks to the tournament's unique five-team groups, the unique WBC tiebreaker scenarios could come into play.
So what happens should Pool C end in a tie?
We've already seen one pool decided by the tiebreakers -- all five teams in Pool A finished with a 2-2 record and Cuba and Italy moved on.
Here is how the WBC tiebreakers work.
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WBC tiebreaker rules
Two-team tiebreaker: Head-to-head record.
This is pretty simple. If two countries are tied in the standings, the team that won their pool-play matchup moves on.
But what happens if three or more teams are tied in the standings? This is where things get more complicated.
Multiteam tiebreaker No. 1: Lowest quotient of runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
OK, so what does that mean?
Instead of using overall run differential, this WBC tiebreaker comes down to how many runs your team allowed against the other teams that it is tied with (the added math of dividing by the number of outs recorded helps account for extra-innings games or those shortened by a run rule).
Using the five-way tie in Pool A as an example, Cuba gave up 15 runs and recorded 108 outs in four pool games (which all counted toward the tiebreaker, since all five teams had the same record). The average of .139 runs allowed per out was the best rate in the group so Cuba moved on (Italy was next at .157, so it also advanced).
Multiteam tiebreaker No. 2: Lowest quotient of earned runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
If you follow the formula for tiebreaker one, this second one is actually quite simple. It is the same idea, just using only earned runs allowed instead of total runs allowed.
Multiteam tiebreaker No. 3: Highest batting average in games between the tied teams.
If the teams are still tied after using both formulas for runs allowed, offensive performance finally comes into play. Next, we'll turn to the batting average each team posted against the other teams in the tiebreaker.
Multiteam tiebreaker No. 4: The drawing of lots between the tied teams.
Yes, you read that right. In the very unlikely event that the previous tiebreakers don't solve things, the team(s) that move on will be decided by essentially picking names out of a hat. Given the detail of the first three tiebreakers, it seems almost impossible ... but hey, you never know, right?
So how could all of this come into play for the nations battling for the remaining quarterfinal spots? Let's take a look at the two groups still playing opening-round games.
What it means for the United States, Mexico and Pool C
United States 2-1
Great Britain 1-3
Mexico has won the group with a 3-1 record and a head-to-head win over the USA that serves as the tiebreaker if both teams finish 3-1.
If Team USA beats Colombia on Wednesday night, it advances as the second team from the group. A spot in the quarterfinals is likely for the United States even with a loss because three teams would finish with 2-2 records, which would bring runs allowed into play -- and the U.S. blew out Canada 12-1 and Canada beat Colombia 5-0.
What it means for Pool D
Puerto Rico 3-1
Dominican Republic 2-2
Venezuela won the pool and advanced with a perfect 4-0 mark. That means the most intrigue in this group came in a winner-moves-on showdown in which Puerto Rico defeated the Dominican Republic to reach the quarterfinals.