2020 Olympics

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Baseball returned as a medal event in the 2020 Olympics after not being included in 2012 or 2016. The host country, Japan, won its first-ever gold medal in the event (they had finished first in 1984, before baseball was a medal event), defeating the United States in the Gold Medal Game on August 7, 2021, with the Dominican Republic winning bronze. It was the US's first Silver in baseball in the Olympics (they had won Gold and Bronze before) while it was the first team Olympic medal (regardless of sport) for the Dominicans.

The games were originally scheduled to be held in Tokyo, Japan (though the baseball portion was to be played elsewhere in Japan) starting on July 24, 2020, but like many other sporting competitions around the world, they fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic that swept the planet in the early months of that year. At first, Japanese authorities were adamant that the games would be held as scheduled, stating that a delay was not an option, but reality got the better of that position. As it became clear that a return to some sort of normalcy would not happen in most of the world by the summer, and with massive travel restrictions in place, athletes finding themselves unable to train properly, and a number of qualifying events canceled or postponed, including the 2020 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament for baseball, the Japanese Organizing Committee came under great pressure to make a decision. With major national federations, including those of Canada and Australia announcing on March 22nd that they would not compete in the games if held as scheduled, and the United States Olympic Committee sending a petition to the Japanese to delay the games, there was little choice left. On March 24th, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that he and International Olympic Committee Head Thomas Bach had agreed to postpone the games by one year, with the opening ceremonies scheduled for July 23, 2021.

The new dates also came under pressure, as in January 2021, with the world in the middle of a second wave of the pandemic, stronger in many places - including Japan - than the first, rumors began to circulate that the games would be simply scrapped, and Tokyo would be awarded the 2032 games as compensation (hosts had already been designated for 2024 and 2028). This was shot down by the Japanese government at the end of the month, but not everyone was convinced how long they would continue, with public opinion in Japan having now turned overwhelmingly against holding the games. Another problem occurred the following month, when local organizing committee head Yoshiro Mori made some incredibly sexist public remarks, and after a week of pressure was forced to resign on February 12th. On March 9th, unconfirmed news came out that the games would take place - but with no foreign spectators present to watch them, and with some events entirely closed to the public. Even with the progress of vaccination (which was extremely slow in Japan compared to other parts of the developed world), it was simply not possible to manage the huge crush of spectators that would normally be there for the games, and all the health risks that the situation would entail. This was officially confirmed on March 20th. In early July it was also confirmed that the Japanese public would also be barred from attending most events, as this was the price to pay to have the games take place at all.

In an interesting side note, Eddy Alvarez, a member of the U.S. baseball team, was selected as one of two flag-bearers for the U.S. at the Opening Ceremonies on July 23, 2021. Alvarez was selected for his remarkable personal story, including taking part in the 2014 Winter Olympics as a short-track speed skater and winning a silver medal as part of the relay team. He was the first baseball player to be selected for the honor by Team USA and was joined by Sue Bird, a member of the women's basketball team. The opening ceremonies also featured Japanese baseball legends Sadaharu Oh, Shigeo Nagashima and Hideki Matsui.

As usual, the Olympic baseball teams did not have access to players on current MLB rosters, but active NPB and KBO players were available. Teams thus went to a mix of former major league stars (ex. Jose Bautista for the Dominicans, Todd Frazier and Scott Kazmir for the US, Masahiro Tanaka for Japan, Ian Kinsler for Israel), top prospects like Julio Rodríguez and the top players from the Japanese and Korean leagues; in addition to people representing Japan and South Korea, this included people like Brandon Laird (Mexico) and Scott McGough (USA).

Before the baseball portion began, the Mexican team ran afoul of Olympic rules. 11 players had played for manager Benji Gil with the Tomateros de Culiacán (already a sore point with some in Mexico, who felt he showed undue favoritism to his players in assembling the team) and had taken a photo together while in Japan, in violation of Olympic rules which only allow photos in the national uniform. The Mexican Olympic Committee spoke out against Gil and the Tomateros as well.

Competing were Flag of Japan Japan, Flag of Israel Israel, Flag of South Korea South Korea, Flag of Mexico Mexico, Flag of United States United States and Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic; Mexico and Israel made their Olympic debuts. Both newcomers relied on American players - the Israelis on American Jewish players who obtained Israeli citizenship to help their Olympic chances and Mexico had many Mexican-Americans on their qualifying team. Both teams had players who had previously represented the US in fact - Kinsler for Israel, and Danny Espinosa for Mexico.

Competing Nations[edit]

Further information: 2020 Olympics (Qualification) Further information: 2020 Olympics (Rosters)

Nation Qualification
Flag of Japan Japan Automatic qualifier as host nation of the Olympics
Flag of South Korea South Korea Top Asian team (other than Japan) at the Premier 12
Flag of Mexico Mexico Top American finisher at the Premier 12
Flag of United States United States Winner of the Americas Olympic Qualifier
Flag of Israel Israel First place at the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic Winner of the Final Olympic Qualifier

Competition Format and Rules[edit]

The Olympic baseball tournament consisted of a round-robin preliminary round. The knockout stage (1-4 August) will have the double-elimination format. The first-place teams in both groups will skip the first round of games. Second- and third-place finishers competed in the first round to have access to the winners' part of the draw.

The two winners in this part of the draw advanced directly to the first semifinal, scheduled. The winner of the first semifinal advanced to the gold medal game, while the loser had a chance through the second semifinal, against the National Team emerging from the losers' part of the draw.

Rosters were limited to 24 players per team. There is also a mercy rule that is invoked if a team is winning by 10 or more runs after 7 innings (or 6 1/2 innings if the home team is leading). If a game is tied after 10 innings, teams start with two runners on and their choice of hitter starting off the frame; this rule was used in the 2008 Olympics as well.

Final Ranking[edit]

Rank Nation
Gold Flag of Japan Japan
Silver Flag of United States United States
Bronze Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic
4th Flag of South Korea South Korea
5th Flag of Israel Israel
6th Flag of Mexico Mexico


Preliminary Round Results[edit]

July 28[edit]

12:00 at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 3 8 0
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 3 4 9 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Ryoji Kuribayashi (1-0) Loss: Jairo Asencio (0-1)
Home Runs
Dominican Republic: None
Japan: None
Umpires
HP: Hua-Wen Chi (Taiwan); 1B: Trevor Grieve (Canada); 2B: Kevin Sweeney (USA); 3B: Jair Fernandez (Mexico)
Time of Game: 3:16
Attendance: N/A

There were no fans in attendance due to the pandemic; had there been, they would have had plenty to cheer about as the hosts staged a big comeback in the bottom of the 9th to take the opener. CF Emilio Bonifacio was the first Olympic batter in 13 years, while RF Julio Rodríguez got the first hit. Both starters were superb; Yoshinobu Yamamoto struck out nine and allowed two hits in six shutout innings, while C.C. Mercedes (no stranger to Japanese batters, having pitched for several years in NPB) matched him zero for zero.

In the top of the 7th, Koyo Aoyagi replaced Yamamoto. DH Juan Francisco singled, LF Johan Mieses struck out and 3B Erick Mejia singled. After SS Jeison Guzmán flew out, C Charlie Valerio came up huge, with a double to the gap in left-center, scoring both runners. Following a walk, Kaima Taira relieved to escape further harm. Japan got one run back in the bottom of the inning. 1B Hideto Asamura singled and CF Yuki Yanagita doubled to chase Mercedes. Luis Castillo relieved and fanned 2B Ryosuke Kikuchi but 3B Munetaka Murakami grounded in Asamura to make it 2-1.

Japan nearly tied it in the 8th against Jumbo Díaz. DH Tetsuto Yamada singled and was bunted over by SS Hayato Sakamoto. LF Masataka Yoshida singled to left and Yamada tried to score, but Mieses gunned him down at the plate. The Dominicans got insurance in the top of the 9th against rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi. Mejia doubled and Guzmán drew a walk. Valerio hit into a force at second, then 2B Gustavo Núñez doubled to score Mejia. Kobayashi avoided any more trouble by striking out both Bonifacio and Rodríguez.

That proved to be essential when Jairo Asencio failed to close it out for the Dominicans. After Asamura flew out, Yanagita and PH Kensuke Kondo both singled. Murakami singled to make it 3-2, then Sosuke Genda pinch-ran for Kondo. C Takuya Kai bunted Genda in, all the runners being safe, to tie it. Yamada singled to center to load the bases. Jhan Maríñez was summoned to try to stop the bleeding but Sakamoto singled in Murakami with the winner. Japan had gotten five of their nine hits in the bottom of the 9th, while only registering one out.

July 29[edit]

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Flag of Israel Israel 0 0 2 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 5 7 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 0 0 1 6 11 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Seung-hwan Oh (1-0) Loss: Jeremy Bleich (0-1)
Home Runs
Israel: Ian Kinsler, Ryan Lavarnway 2
Japan: Ji-hwan Oh, Jung-hoo Lee, Hyun-soo Kim
Umpires
HP: Kenjiro Mori (Japan); 1B: Edwin Hernández (Puerto Rico); 2B: Mark Winters (USA); 3B: Fabrizio Fabrizi (Italy)
Time of Game: 3:20
Attendance: N/A

Israel made its Olympic debut in fine fashion, taking defending Gold Medalist South Korea to extra innings before falling.

Things did not start well for Israel; CF Hae-min Park singled off Jon Moscot, who then left the game with injury, replaced by Jake Fishman, a late addition to the Israeli roster. Fishman provided strong relief, throwing shutout ball for the first three innings. Israel went ahead in the 3rd against Tae-in Won. RF Mitch Glasser singled and 2B Ian Kinsler hit a one-out homer to left for a 2-0 lead.

South Korea came back in the 4th. C Min-ho Kang, one of the few remaining players from the 2008 Olympic team, singled off Fishman. SS Ji-hwan Oh homered to tie it. 3B Kyoung-min Hur doubled and 2B Hye-seong Kim singled, chasing Fishman in favor of Alex Katz, who retired Park to escape further damage.

Won-joon Choi pitched perfect relief in the 4th and 5th, fanning four, but ran into difficulty in the 6th. 1B Danny Valencia singled and C Ryan Lavarnway homered for a 4-2 lead. The Koreans came back in the bottom of the 7th when RF Jung-hoo Lee and LF Hyun-soo Kim hit back-to-back dingers against Zack Weiss to tie it. With one out, 1B Jae-il Oh singled, and with two out, Ji-hwan Oh doubled him in. Oh, they had come back!

In the 9th, South Korea turned to another of their 2008 Olympians, Seung-hwan Oh (a late addition this year). With one out, Lavarnway homered for the second time to tie it up. Oh was much sharper in the 10th (with two runners on thanks to the extra-inning tiebreaker rules), striking out the side (Glasser, SS Scotty Burcham and Kinsler). In the bottom of the 10th, Israel turned to veteran Jeremy Bleich. Backup 2B Jae-gyun Hwang laid down a sacrifice to advance PR Kun-woo Park. Ji-hwan Oh (3-for-3 to that point) flew out, then 3B Kyoung-min Hur was plunked to load the bases. Backup C Eui-ji Yang was then hit as well to force in the winner.

July 30[edit]

12:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 1 6 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Ángel Sánchez (1-0) Loss: Teddy Stankiewicz (0-1) Save: Luis Castillo (1)
Home Runs
Mexico: None
Dominican Republic: None
Umpires
HP: Jorge Niebla (Cuba); 1B: Mark Winters (USA); 2B: Jairo Mendoza (Nicaragua); 3B: Trent Thomas (Australia)
Time of Game: 3:01
Attendance: N/A

Mexico made its Olympic debut and, like Israel, came close in a one-run loss. Both starters turned in fine efforts in a pitching duel, Ángel Sánchez allowing two hits, one walk and no runs in five for the Dominicans while Teddy Stankiewicz began with four scoreless for the Mexicans. In the 5th, C Charlie Valerio doubled off Stankiewicz and advanced on a grounder by 2B Yefri Pérez. After another out, DH Melky Cabrera singled him in for the game's lone run. RF Julio Rodríguez singled for one of his three hits today, but Fernando Salas relieved and struck out 1B Juan Francisco to end the inning.

Mexico got its best shot in the 6th, after Ramón Rosso (a late addition to Mexico's squad) took over. 3B Isaac Rodríguez singled. With one out, LF Joey Meneses got a hit to left; Rodríguez tried to score but was gunned down at the plate by 40-year-old José Bautista, the second time the Dominican left fielders had thrown out a runner at home in two days. Darío Álvarez, Jumbo Díaz and Luis Castillo each turned in a hitless inning to close it out.


7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 0 3 0 0 1 2 1 1 8 11 0
Flag of Israel Israel 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 7 2
Pitchers of Record
Win: Joe Ryan (1-0) Loss: Joey Wagman (0-1)
Home Runs
USA: Tyler Austin
Israel: Danny Valencia
Umpires
HP: Masaharu Kasahara (Japan); 1B: Kwang-hoe Kang (South Korea); 2B: Jair Fernandez (Mexico); 3B: Trevor Grieve (Canada)
Time of Game: 2:27
Attendance: N/A

In the first rout of the Olympics, the US won its opener. Israel challenged in the 1st against recently-traded prospect Joe Ryan. 3B Ty Kelly hit a one-out double and CF Blake Gailen a two-out single but yesterday's hero, C Ryan Lavarnway, was retired; he was otherwise 2-for-3 today. In the 3rd, the US went ahead when SS Nick Allen had a one-out single off Joey Wagman and 2B Eddy Alvarez smacked a RBI double, followed by a two-run homer by DH Tyler Austin.

In the bottom of the 4th, Israel got on the board with a homer by 1B Danny Valencia. Lavarnway and DH Nick Rickles had one-out singles but Ryan retired LF Robb Paller and RF Mitch Glasser to end the inning and Israel wouldn't really threaten again. D.J. Sharabi pitched shutout ball for Israel in the 4th and 5th but the US scored every inning thereafter. In the 6th, 3B Todd Frazier reached on an error by 2B Ian Kinsler and later scored on a hit by CF Bubba Starling off Jeremy Bleich.

The US padded their lead in the 7th against Jonathan de Marte. LF Jamie Westbrook reached on a Paller era and Alvarez and Austin followed with RBI doubles. In the top of the 8th, RF Eric Filia singled off one of the few native Israelis, veteran Shlomo Lipetz, and stole second, then advanced on two grounders to score. In the 9th, another native Israeli, Alon Leichman, allowed a double to Austin (his third extra-base hit of the day) and 1B Triston Casas singled in the run.

July 31[edit]

12:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 1 1 3 0 0 1 1 0 7 10 0
Flag of Mexico Mexico 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 4 7 2
Pitchers of Record
Win: Masato Morishita (1-0) Loss: Juan Pablo Oramas (0-1) Save: Ryoji Kuribayashi (1)
Home Runs
Japan: Tetsuto Yamada, Hayato Sakamoto
Mexico: Joey Meneses
Umpires
HP: Kevin Sweeney (USA); 1B: Jairo Mendoza (Nicaragua);2B: Edwin Hernández (Puerto Rico); 3B: Kwang-hoe Kang (South Korea)
Time of Game: 3:05
Attendance: N/A

Japan became the first team to win a spot in the semifinals by holding off Mexico. After being shut out in their opener, Mexico got their first Olympic run early today. In the bottom of the 1st, 3B Isaac Rodríguez singled off Masato Morishita, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a one-out single by LF Joey Meneses. The hosts got that run back in the top of the 2nd on a leadoff single by 1B Hideto Asamura off Juan Pablo Oramas, a one-out single by 2B Ryosuke Kikuchi and a two-out single by C Takuya Kai, the 9th batter. They went ahead in the 3rd when SS Hayato Sakamoto doubled, LF Masataka Yoshida hit into an error by Rodríguez, Sakamoto advanced on a fly by RF Seiya Suzuki and Asamura singled in the run.

In the 4th, Japan significantly increased their lead, after Édgar Arredondo (a late addition after Héctor Velázquez and Sammy Solis tested positive for COVID-19) gave up one-out singles to 3B Munetaka Murakami and Kai, then DH Tetsuto Yamada smacked a homer. Mexico got one run back in the bottom of the inning on singles by RF Sebastián Elizalde and Meneses and a double play grounder by Adrián González. Sakamoto added another dinger in the 7th, off Manny Bañuelos, to make it 6-2. In the top of the 8th, Kai singled off Fabián Anguamea, stole second and scored on a hit by Yamada for a four-RBI day.

Mexico got their last runs in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Kaima Taira walked Rodríguez and Meneses hit a two-run shot for a 3-hit, 3-RBI day. Rookie sensation Ryoji Kuribayashi went 1-2-3 in the 9th against MLB vets SS Danny Espinosa and 1B Efren Navarro followed by CF Jon Jones.

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Korea South Korea 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 5 0
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 x 4 6 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Nick Martinez (1-0) Loss: Young-pyo Ko (0-1) Save: David Robertson (1)
Home Runs
South Korea: None
USA: Triston Casas, Nick Allen
Umpires
HP: Trevor Grieve (Canada); 1B: Trent Thomas (Australia);2B: Koichi Tamba (Japan); 3B: Katsumi Manabe (Japan)
Time of Game: 2:39
Attendance: N/A

The US joined Japan in the semifinals, also finishing their pool play at 2-0. South Korea got on the board first, off Nick Martinez. CF Hae-min Park singled and moved to third on a single by RF Jung-hoo Lee, then came home when LF Hyun-soo Kim hit into a force at second. Martinez allowed no more runs and struck out nine in five innings. Relievers Scott McGough, Edwin Jackson and Anthony Gose then turned in three shutout frames, with no hits and four more Ks. The US took the lead in the bottom of the 4th; Young-pyo Ko hit 2B Eddy Alvarez and 1B Triston Casas hit a blast to deep right for a 2-1 edge.

The US got their other runs an inning later. With two away, SS Nick Allen hit a home run and LF Jamie Westbrook singled to knock out Ko, who was succeeded by Woo-suk Go. Alvarez and DH Tyler Austin both singled for a 4-1 lead. In the top of the 9th, David Robertson walked DH Baek-ho Kang and C Eui-ji Yang doubled Kang to third. 1B Jae-il Oh's sacrifice fly brought home Kang but Robertson recovered to whiff SS Ji-hwan Oh and Kyoung-min Hur grounded out.

August 1[edit]

12:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Israel Israel 1 0 5 0 0 0 6 0 0 12 12 0
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 8 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Zack Weiss (1-0) Loss: Manny Barreda (0-1)
Home Runs
Israel: Danny Valencia (2)
Mexico: None
Umpires
HP: Fabrizio Fabrizi (Italy); 1B: Kenjiro Mori (Japan);2B: Kwang-hoe Kang (South Korea); 3B: Hua-Wen Chi (Taiwan)
Time of Game: 3:32
Attendance: N/A

The two newcomer teams met in the elimination game, with Israel romping to victory.

Israel got to Manny Barreda in the 1st; with one out, 1B Danny Valencia walked and C Ryan Lavarnway doubled. CF Blake Gailen flew out, then DH Nick Rickles singled in Valencia. In the 3rd, SS Scotty Burcham and 2B Ian Kinsler drew walks from Barreda then Valencia hit a three-run bomb to left. Lavarnway reached on an error by 3B Isaac Rodríguez and Gailen hit a two-bagger to knock out Barreda. Sasagi Sánchez relieved and Rickles greeted him with a two-run single for a 6-0 lead.

Josh Zeid had set down Mexico in order through the first two innings, but things went south in the bottom of the third. CF Jon Jones and 2B Ryan Goins hit back-to-back doubles for one run. Goins took third on a fly by C Alí Solís. A wild pitch made it 6-2. After Rodríguez walked, Zeid threw a wild pitch and was replaced by Jake Fishman. RF Sebastián Elizalde doubled in Rodríguez and LF Joey Meneses remained hot with a RBI single to close it to 6-4, but DH Adrián González and SS Danny Espinosa were retired to close out the frame.

Mexico made it a one-run game in the 6th and almost took the lead. Meneses doubled off Zack Weiss and González singled him in. Weiss hit Espinosa and 1B Efren Navarro bunted the runners over to put the potential tying run on third and go-ahead run on second. Jones struck out then Weiss intentionally walked Goins to load them up, but the move paid off when Weiss got Solís looking. Israel got plenty of insurance in the top of the 7th. Kinsler greeted Fernando Salas with a double and Valencia singled. After Lavarnway struck out, Mexico turned to Oliver Pérez, veteran of 696 MLB games. It was not his best day; Gailen greeted him with a RBI single to make it 7-5. Rickles flew out, then 3B Ty Kelly walked. RF Mitch Glasser singled in Gailen, LF Zach Penprase singled in two more and Burcham doubled in Penprase for a 12-5 lead as Pérez gave up four hits and four runs in 1/3 of an inning, before Carlos Bustamante took over. D.J. Sharabi and Ben Wanger pitched shutout ball over the final three innings. Valencia finished with 3 runs and 3 RBI, while Rickles drove in 3.

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 4 12 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Seung-hwan Oh (2-0) Loss: Luis Castillo (0-1)
Home Runs
Dominican Republic: Juan Francisco
South Korea: None
Umpires
HP: Mark Winters (USA); 1B: Jair Fernandez (Mexico);2B: Masaharu Kasahara (Japan); 3B: Koichi Tamba (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:10
Attendance: N/A

South Korea got the third semifinal spot, as the 1-1 teams matched up. It was a pitching matchup of old and young as 19-year-old Eui-lee Lee (the 2nd-youngest player in baseball in these Games) faced 43-year-old Raúl Valdés.

CF Emilio Bonifacio led off the game with a single off Eui-lee Lee and DH Melky Cabrera singled him to third. A wild pitch made it 1-0. In the bottom of the 1st, the Koreans tied it on a single by CF Hae-min Park, a double by DH Baek-ho Kang, a walk by RF Jung-hoo Lee and a sacrifice fly by C Eui-ji Yang. Valdés recovered to strike out both LF Hyun-soo Kim and 1B Jae-il Oh. Valdés, Denyi Reyes, Darío Álvarez and Jumbo Díaz shut out South Korea from the 2nd through the 8th.

In the top of the 4th, RF Julio Rodríguez singled off Lee and 1B Juan Francisco hit one off the scoreboard in deepest center field for a 3-1 lead. With the Dominican bullpen holding South Korea in check, it seemed like that would be enough - until the bottom of the 9th. It was a recap of game 1, when the Dominicans had blown a 3-1 lead in the 9th. This time, the pitcher was Luis Castillo. Pinch-hitter Joo-hwan Choi started with a single, then pinch-runner Hye-seong Kim stole second. Hae-min Park's single made it a one-run game. He advanced on a Kang grounder then Jung-hoo Lee doubled to tie the score. Hyun-soo Kim then came through with a single to right to score Jung-hoo Lee. Seung-hwan Oh went to 3-0 on his Olympic career.

August 2[edit]

12:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Flag of Israel Israel 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 3 2
Flag of South Korea South Korea 1 2 0 0 7 0 1 11 18 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Sang-woo Cho (1-0) Loss: Joey Wagman (0-2)
Home Runs
Israel: None
South Korea: Hyun-soo Kim (2), Ji-hwan Oh (2)
Umpires
HP: Koichi Tamba (Japan); 1B: Kevin Sweeney (USA); 2B: Katsumi Manabe (Japan); 3B: Hua-Wen Chi (Taiwan)
Time of Game: 2:53
Attendance: N/A

In the first mercy rule game of the tournament, South Korea became the third team to make the semifinals with a big 18-hit day. They wasted no time; CF Hae-min Park and DH Baek-ho Kang opened with singles off Joey Wagman then RF Jung-hoo Lee hit a sacrifice fly. In the 2nd, 1B Jae-il Oh singled and DH Ji-hwan Oh went yard for a 3-0 lead. It would have been even bigger but Korean players were out at home in both innings.

Israel made it a one-run game briefly and almost tied it in the top of the 5th. With one out, Min-woo Kim walked RF Mitch Glasser and with two away, Won-joon Choi hit SS Scotty Burcham. 2B Ian Kinsler and 1B Danny Valencia drew back-to-back walks to make it 3-1. Sang-woo Cho relieved and got C Ryan Lavarnway on a pop-up to end the threat.

South Korea then got oodles of insurance runs in the bottom of the 5th. Jae-il Oh singled off Alex Katz and Ji-hwan Oh was hit. A single by 3B Kyoung-min Hur loaded the bases. 2B Jae-gyun Hwang hit into an error by Valencia. Hae-min Park doubled in two and Baek-ho Kang singled in two more for an 8-1 lead. Jeremy Bleich relieved and Jung-hoo Lee hit into a force out. With two away, LF Hyun-soo Kim homered for a 7-run inning and a 10-1 lead. In the bottom of the 7th, Hyun-soo Kim hit a two-out double off Shlomo Lipetz and backup 2B Hye-seong Kim singled him in to force the mercy rule. Hyun-soo Kim had three extra-base hits, while Baek-ho Kang was 4-for-4 with two RBI.

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 3 3 0 0 0 0 0 6 12 2
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 2 1 2 0 0 0 1 1 7 12 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Ryoji Kuribayashi (2-0) Loss: Edwin Jackson (0-1)
Home Runs
USA: Triston Casas (2)
Japan: Seiya Suzuki
Umpires
HP: Kwang-hoe Kang (South Korea); 1B: Trent Thomas (Australia); 2B: Edwin Hernández (Puerto Rico); 3B: Jorge Niebla (Cuba)
Time of Game: 3:53
Attendance: N/A

The two unbeaten teams squared off; the winner would face South Korea for a spot in the Gold Medal Game, while the loser would have to win two in a row to get to the Gold Medal Game. It was a closely matched contest, going extra innings.

Japan went to former Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. He struck out the side in the 1st, around a double to DH Tyler Austin. The US got a one-out double by RF Eric Filia in the 2nd and C Mark Kolozsvary singled, but CF Bubba Starling hit into a twin killing. In the bottom of the inning, Japan got the first two men on against Shane Baz as 1B Hideto Asamura walked and CF Yuki Yanagita singled but 2B Ryosuke Kikuchi hit into a double play.

The hosts got on the board first, in the bottom of the 3rd. SS Hayato Sakamoto hit a two-out double and LF Masataka Yoshida singled him in. Baz walked RF Seiya Suzuki and Asamura then Yanagita singled in Yoshida for a 2-0 lead. Brandon Dickson relieved and the 2019 Premier 12 relief ace got Kikuchi to hit into an inning-ending force.

In the 4th, the US struck back. 1B Triston Casas drew a one-out walk, 3B Todd Frazier doubled him in and Tanaka hit Filia. Kolozsvary singled to make it 2-2. With two away, SS Nick Allen doubled to bring in Filia and give the US a one-run edge. Suguru Iwazaki relieved Tanaka.

Japan tied it in the bottom of the 4th. 3B Munetaka Murakami drew a walk and C Ryutaro Umeno bunted him over. With two outs, Sakamoto doubled to left to bring in the run. Koyo Aoyagi replaced Iwazaki in the 5th and did not get off on a good foot. 2B Eddy Alvarez and Austin singled, then Casas hit an opposite-field three-run shot for a 6-3 lead. Frazier singled and Koloszvary added a one-out single but backup CF Jack López hit into a double play to end that rally.

The relievers for Japan were on shutdown mode after that - Kodai Senga fanned five batters in two shutout innings, hitting 99 mph. Yasuaki Yamasaki, Yudai Ohno and Ryoji Kuribayashi followed with a hitless inning apiece. Japan began their comeback fresh in the bottom of the 5th when Suzuki hit a monster home run into the upper seats in left, off Anthony Carter. Asamura followed with a double, took third on a Yanagita grounder and scored on a Kikuchi single to close it to 6-5. Ryder Ryan came in and preserved the lead by getting Murakami on a grounder and Umeno looking at strike three.

The bullpens traded zeros from there until the bottom of the 9th. Suzuki drew a one-out walk in that inning from Scott McGough and Asamura singled. Sosuke Genda ran for Asamura and Yanagita grounded in Suzuki to tie it. McGough recovered to fan Kikuchi and force extra innings.

With the international tie-breaker rules, the US began with two men on base to open the 10th. Kuribayashi struck out Frazier, then Filia hit into a force at second and Koloszvary flew out. It was now Japan's turn, against Edwin Jackson, the 8th US hurler. PH Ryoya Kurihara bunted the starting runners over, then backup C Takuya Kai hit an opposite-field single to score Yanagita with the winner.

August 3[edit]

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Israel Israel 0 0 0 0 4 0 0 2 0 6 9 2
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 1 0 1 0 0 2 1 0 2 7 9 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Luis Castillo (1-1) Loss: Zack Weiss (1-1)
Home Runs
Israel: Danny Valencia (3)
Dominican Republic: Jeison Guzmán, Johan Mieses
Umpires
HP: Katsumi Manabe (Japan); 1B: Jairo Mendoza (Nicaragua);2B: Kenjiro Mori (Japan); 3B: Fabrizio Fabrizi (Italy)
Time of Game: 2:42
Attendance: N/A

The dramatic endings and comebacks continue in the second elimination game. The Dominicans started quickly. CF Emilio Bonifacio bunted against Josh Zeid; the bunt went over the head of charging 3B Ty Kelly and then SS Scotty Burcham threw the ball away, putting Bonifacio on third. With one out, RF Julio Rodríguez hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0.

In the 3rd, SS Jeison Guzmán and 2B Gustavo Núñez (mistakenly listed as Ramón Rosso on their WBSC site's initial box score and play-by-play) hit back-to-back singles. C Ryan Lavarnway tried to pick off Núñez, but the throw went into right field and Guzmán scored to make it 2-0. C.C. Mercedes was again dominant to start off, retiring the first nine batters he faced before walking 2B Ian Kinsler, who was then erased on a double play as Mercedes faced the minimum through four.

Israel came back in the 5th. DH Nick Rickles reached on a one-out error by Guzmán and Kelly walked. LF Zach Penprase singled, but Jose Bautista threw out his second runner at the plate in these Games, nailing Rickles. RF Mitch Glasser kept it rolling, though, with a two-run double and Scotty Burcham singled him in to put Israel in the lead, 3-2. Jhan Maríñez replaced the flagging Mercedes but Kinsler greeted him with a RBI single.

The Dominicans came back in the 6th. Bautista and 3B Erick Mejia drew walks from Jake Fishman and Rodríguez singled in Bautista. Fishman fanned 1B Juan Francisco and Zack Weiss relieved. Johan Mieses (now playing right, with the outfield having shifted around after Bautista replaced Bonifacio in the lineup) grounded in Mejia to make it 4-4.

Guzmán homered off Weiss in the 5th for a 5-4 lead. That was short-lived. In the 8th, Kinsler singled off Jumbo Díaz and 1B Danny Valencia hit his third home run of the Games to put Israel up, 6-5. Weiss then struck out the side in the bottom of the 8th. In the bottom of the 9th, though, Mieses led off with a long ball. DH Melky Cabrera singled and Yefri Pérez pinch-ran. C Roldani Baldwin bunted him over and Guzmán was intentionally walked. D.J. Sharabi relieved and Núñez hit into a force at second. That brought up the great Bautista, with over 340 MLB home runs and 1,000 runs but 0-for-9 so far in Japan this summer. His first hit was a biggie, as he singled to bring in Pérez with the winner.

Both teams shook hands after the game to acknowledge the hard-fought battle. Bautista said "We respect how hard they fought, and we took a moment to embrace them. It may not be common in baseball, but we all felt like doing it" while Kinsler said "Sportsmanship is what's the Olympics is all about."

August 4[edit]

12:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 5 0
Flag of United States United States 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 x 3 3 3
Pitchers of Record
Win: Scott Kazmir (1-0) Loss: Denyi Reyes (0-1) Save: David Robertson (2)
Home Runs
Dominican Republic: Charlie Valerio
USA: Triston Casas (3), Tyler Austin (2)
Umpires
HP: Jair Fernandez (Mexico); 1B: Masaharu Kasahara (Japan);2B: Trevor Grieve (Canada); 3B: Kenjiro Mori (Japan)
Time of Game: 2:52
Attendance: N/A

The US kept their chances of a Gold Medal alive, while the Dominican squad fell into the Bronze Medal Game. It was a pitching duel, with the two teams combining for only eight hits, but three of them were homers to provide all of the game's runs. The US had just three hits but they had two of the dingers to propel them ahead.

The Dominicans threatened in the top of the 1st. 3B Erick Mejia doubled off three-time All-Star Scott Kazmir and CF Julio Rodríguez reached on an error by LF Patrick Kivlehan. 1B Juan Francisco walked to load the bases, but RF Johan Mieses hit into a force at home and DH Melky Cabrera grounded to third to end the threat. Kazmir allowed only one more hit and no walks in the next four innings before Brandon Dickson relieved.

Meanwhile, the US got all the runs they needed in the bottom of the 1st. DH Tyler Austin drew a one-out walk from Denyi Reyes and 1B Triston Casas hit one into the bleachers in center to tie Danny Valencia for the lead with three homers in the Games; Casas was leading now with 8 RBI. No one else reached third base after that until Austin hit a two-out shot off Gabriel Arias in the 5th for the last US hit.

The Dominicans got two men on in the 6th thanks to more US errors, by Casas and 2B Eddy Alvarez, but Francisco hit into a double play and Mieses flew out. In the 7th, they threatened again with singles from Cabrera and 2B Yefri Pérez but Scott McGough struck out yesterday's hero, LF Jose Bautista. With two away in the 9th, C Charlie Valerio put the Dominicans on the board by taking David Robertson deep. SS Jeison Guzmán walked to bring up Pérez as the potential tying run but he went down swinging to end it.

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 2 7 1
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 3 x 5 9 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Hiromi Itoh (1-0) Loss: Woo-suk Go (0-1) Save: Ryoji Kuribayashi (2)
Home Runs
South Korea: None
Japan: None
Umpires
HP: Edwin Hernández (Puerto Rico); 1B: Hua-Wen Chi (Taiwan);2B: Jorge Niebla (Cuba); 3B: Kevin Sweeney (USA)
Time of Game: 3:30
Attendance: N/A

The hosts became the first team to clinch a spot in the Gold Medal Game, while South Korea would have to play the US for the second spot.

South Korea threatened in the 1st against Yoshinobu Yamamoto. CF Hae-min Park drew a leadoff walk and RF Jung-hoo Lee hit a one-out double but Yamamoto struck out C Eui-ji Yang and LF Hyun-soo Kim; he would finish with 9 whiffs in 5 1/3 IP. Japan went ahead in the 3rd against Young-pyo Ko. 3B Munetaka Murakami and C Takuya Kai, the #8 and #9 hitters, both singled. 2B Tetsuto Yamada bunted them over and SS Hayato Sakamoto's fly to center score Murakami.

Japan made it 2-0 in the 5th on a double by Yamada and a one-out RBI single by DH Masataka Yoshida. Yamamoto tired in the 6th, allowing three straight singles to Park, DH Baek-ho Kang and Jung-hoo Lee before striking out Yang. Suguru Iwazaki relieved but Hyun-soo Kim singled in Kang to tie it. Iwazaki kept up Japan's strikeout parade, getting both 1B Jae-il Oh and SS Ji-hwan Oh swinging. Japan's hurlers would strike out 15 batters today.

In the bottom of the 8th, CF Yuki Yanagita hit a one-out single off Woo-suk Go and LF Kensuke Kondoh hit into a 3-6 force, although the Koreans were unable to complete the potential inning-ending double play when P Go was unable to find first base with his foot after catching the relay from short. Given a reprieve, the Japanese mounted the winning rally. After a wild pitch, Murakami was intentionally walked and Kai also drew a walk. Yamada smashed to deep left field that almost left the yard, but instead banged off the top of the fence for a three-run double, his second big hit against South Korea in two years, as he had the key homer in the 2019 Premier 12 finale.

August 5[edit]

7:00 at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 7 0
Flag of United States United States 0 1 0 1 0 5 0 0 x 7 9 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Ryder Ryan (1-0) Loss: Eui-lee Lee (0-1)
Home Runs
South Korea: None
USA: Jamie Westbrook
Umpires
HP: Jairo Mendoza (Nicaragua); 1B: Katsumi Manabe (Japan);2B: Fabrizio Fabrizi (Italy); 3B: Koichi Tamba (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:16
Attendance: N/A

The 2008 Gold Medalists would not get a chance to defend their title in the finale, falling to the 2000 winners, as the US made their first title game since those 2000 Olympics.

Both teams got 1st-inning doubles, by LF Jung-hoo Lee off Joe Ryan and 3B Todd Frazier off Eui-lee Lee, but both were stranded. In the bottom of the 2nd, C Mark Kolozsvary drew a one-out walk and stole second, then scored on a single by CF and #9 hitter Jack López. LF Jamie Westbrook doubled the US lead with a solo shot in the 4th, into the newly installed second deck in left field.

In the top of the 5th, 3B Kyoung-min Hur was plunked with one out and back-to-back singles by 2B Hye-seong Kim (who finishes 3-for-3) and CF Hae-min Park made it 2-1. Ryder Ryan relieved Joe Ryan and got out of the jam by getting DH Baek-ho Kang to ground into a double play.

The US then got their big inning in the bottom of the 6th. Won-joon Choi relieved Eui-lee Lee and walked Frazier. Woo-chan Cha succeeded him and struck out RF Eric Filia then Tae-in Won came in and things went downhill. Westbrook and Kolozsvary both singled to make it 3-1 and SS Nick Allen drew a walk. The fourth South Korean hurler of the inning was Sang-woo Cho. López again delivered, a RBI single for a 4-1 edge. 2B Eddy Alvarez grounded in Kolozsvary and DH Tyler Austin had a two-run single to center to make it 7-1. Jin-uk Kim became the fifth hurler of the inning and struck out 1B Triston Casas to finally end the carnage.

In the top of the 7th, RF Kun-woo Park singled off Scott McGough and SS Ji-hwan Oh doubled; an error on the play by López gave South Korea its second run. Hur struck out and Hye-seong Kim singled. Anthony Gose relieved and the converted outfielder came up big, getting Park and Kang looking.

August 7[edit]

  • Bronze Medal Game:
12:00 PM at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 4 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 0 10 14 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 1 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 6 13 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: C.C. Mercedes (1-0) Loss: Seung-hwan Oh (2-1) Save:' Jumbo Díaz (1)
Home Runs
Dominican Republic: Julio Rodríguez, Juan Francisco (2), Johan Mieses (2)
South Korea: Hyun-soo Kim (3)
Umpires
HP: Kevin Sweeney (USA); 1B: Kenjiro Mori (Japan);2B: Mark Winters (USA); 3B: Masaharu Kasahara (Japan); LF: Koichi Tamba (Japan); RF: Fabrizio Fabrizi (Italy)
Time of Game: 3:52
Attendance: N/A

The Dominicans won their first Olympic medal in baseball. They wasted no time getting to Min-woo Kim of the defending Gold Medalists. CF Emilio Bonifacio doubled to right, then stole third. With one out, RF Julio Rodríguez homered to deep left and 1B Juan Francisco also hit a long bomb, this one to right, to make it 3-0. LF Johan Mieses walked and Kim got the hook, replacing by Woo-chan Cha. DH Melky Cabrera singled and 3B Jose Bautista drew a walk to load the bases. C Charlie Valerio's sacrifice fly made it 4-0 for the last team to qualify.

South Korea began their comeback in the 2nd, as 1B Hyun-soo Kim doubled off Raúl Valdés and RF Kun-woo Park singled him in. DH Baek-ho Kang singled but they were stranded there. Hyun-soo Kim struck again in the 4th, with his third home run of the tournament to make it a two-run game. The Dominicans increased their lead in the top of the 5th when Mieses hit a two-out single and Cabrera drove him in with a double; Cabrera finished with four hits. The South Koreans came back in the bottom of the inning. C Eui-ji Yang and 2B Hye-seong Kim both singled, then CF Hae-min Park singled to plate Yang and chase Valdés in favor of Luis Castillo. 3B Kyoung-min Hur grounded in Hye-seong Kim to close it to 5-4. Héctor Borg next summoned Darío Álvarez. Park stole third and scored on a wild pitch. Álvarez got LF Jung-hoo Lee looking but walked Hyun-soo Kim. Jhan Maríñez was summoned as the fourth pitcher of the frame but walked PH Jae-il Oh. The Dominicans next tried their fifth pitcher, C.C. Mercedes. Kang greeted him with a RBI single to put South Korea ahead, 6-5, before SS Ji-hwan Oh grounded out.

Mercedes would pitch three shutout innings after that, though, to get the win as the Dominicans rallied. They loaded the bases in the 6th off Sang-woo Cho but Francisco struck out to end the threat. In the top of the 8th, South Korea turned to Seung-hwan Oh, the veteran reliever who was 3-0 in his Olympic career. Today was not his day, however. SS Jeison Guzmán singled and Bonifacio bunted him over. 2B Erick Mejia singled and a wild pitch tied it at six. Rodríguez drew a walk and Francisco went the other way for a two-run double and an 8-6 edge for a 3-RBI day before leaving for pinch-runner Yefri Pérez. Mieses then launched one, giving Oh five runs allowed in 1/3 of an inning.

South Korea challenged in the bottom of the 9th when Hye-seong Kim singled off Mercedes and Park doubled. Veteran Jumbo Díaz relieved and retired PH Joo-hwan Choi on a fly, then struck out Jung-hoo Lee and got Hyun-soo Kim (slugging .862 to that point) on a grounder to wrap up the medal.

  • Gold Medal Game:
7:00 PM at Yokohama Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 1
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 x 2 8 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Masato Morishita (2-0) Loss: Nick Martinez (1-1) Save: Ryoji Kuribayashi (3)
Home Runs
USA: None
Japan: Munetaka Murakami
Umpires
HP: Hua-Wen Chi (Taiwan); 1B: Kwang-hoe Kang (South Korea);2B: Jairo Mendoza (Nicaragua); 3B: Trevor Grieve (Canada); LF: Edwin Hernández (Puerto Rico); RF: Jorge Niebla (Cuba)
Time of Game: 3:00
Attendance: N/A

After the high-explosive Bronze Medal Game, the Gold Medal Game was a pitching duel between Masato Morishita and Nick Martinez. Morishita allowed only three hits in five shutout innings, walking none and striking out five. Martinez faced the minimum through the first two, but allowed a homer to 3B Munetaka Murakami with one out in the 3rd to give Japan the only run it would need. With one out in the 4th, LF Masataka Yoshida singled, as did RF Seiya Suzuki. 1B Hideto Asamura drew a walk to load them up, but CF Yuki Yanagita grounded to third and Todd Frazier fired home to get Yoshida. Martinez struck out 2B Ryosuke Kikuchi to end the inning.

Kodai Senga succeeded Morishita but walked DH Tyler Austin and hit RF Eric Filia with two out before getting LF Jamie Westbrook to escape trouble. SS Nick Allen doubled off Hiromi Itoh in the 6th but was stranded as well; Allen had half the US's six hits today. Ryder Ryan took over for Martinez in the 7th and gave up a leadoff double to Asamura but escaped the inning without allowing a run. After Austin opened the 8th with a single off Itoh, Suguru Iwazaki came on to fan 1B Triston Casas and get Frazier on a fly and Filia to hit into a force.

Japan got some insurance in the bottom of the 8th. DH Tetsuto Yamada singled off Scott McGough and was bunted over by SS Hayato Sakamoto. Yoshida singled and a throwing error by CF Jack López scored the game's second run. Suzuki walked and backup 3B Sosuke Genda bunted the runners over but Yanagita popped out. Japan turned to rookie sensation Ryoji Kuribayashi once again; he was 2-0 with two saves to this point. He began by fanning Westbrook and getting C Mark Kolozsvary on a fly. Allen singled and the US had the tying run at the plate but López grounded into a game-ending force-out. In a losing effort, the US's Eddy Alvarez became the sixth person (and third American) to win medals in both the Winter Games and Summer Games.

Awards[edit]

All-Olympic Team[edit]

Further Reading[edit]

  • Michael Clair: "Ex-MLB stars lead Team USA into Olympics: Who will take home the gold?", mlb.com, July 25, 2021. [1]
  • Brian Murphy: "Japan tops USA to capture gold in Tokyo", mlb.com, August 7, 2021. [2]
  • Tom Schad: "2020 Tokyo Olympics officially postponed due to coronavirus outbreak", USA Today, March 24, 2020. [3]


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