by Mike Potter
Trevor Plouffe's walk-off homer made the difference as Team USA beat Australia 4-3 in the IBAF World Cup in Bologna, Italy, clinching the top seed in Group G for the Final Round.
After the Aussies took a 1-0 lead, Justin Smoak extended his team record with his ninth homer of the tournament to tie the game in the sixth. Former Durham Bull Jon Weber gave the Red, White and Blue the lead with an RBI grounder later in the inning.
Australia scored twice in the seventh, but Plouffe (pictured) tied the score again with an RBI grounder in the bottom of the frame to make it 3-3.
His two out homer to left in the ninth then ended the game.
Cory Luebke had a six-inning quality start in the no-decision. Former Durham Bull Jason Childers then added two innings of scoreless relief, striking out three, before Ehren Wasserman got the win in his first decision of the tournament.
The USA will take on Venezuela today at 2 p.m. (EDT) in Firenze, Italy. Venezuela defeated Team USA in its first game of the tournament, 13-9 in an extra-inning tiebreaker.