U.S. Baseball Team to Play Japan in the Gold Medal Game
YOKOHAMA, Japan – The Olympic gold medal in baseball, a sport absent from the Summer Games for 13 years, will go to the two biggest baseball countries in the world: Japan and the United States.
In the semifinals at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on Thursday, the United States edged South Korea 7-2, behind another strong overall performance from a roster of veteran players and young prospects. Joe Ryan, a right-handed starter, allowed a run in four and a third innings. Four relievers, led by Anthony Gose, combined to allow just one more run for the rest of the course.
Throughout the tournament, it appeared to be a collision between number one Japan, who never won a gold medal in Olympic baseball, and the United States, who won the only one in 2000. The United States’ only flaw so far at the Tokyo Games is a 7-6 loss in 10 innings to Japan on Monday.
Due to the loss, the United States had to beat the Dominican Republic and South Korea to advance to the gold medal game. Japan simply had to beat South Korea, which they did on Wednesday.
On Thursday, leading 2-1, the United States exploded for a five-run sixth inning that put the game out of reach. Mark Kolozsvary, Jack Lopez and Eddy Alvarez each threw a run, while Tyler Austin capped the offensive explosion with a two-run single.
After the game, United States third baseman Todd Frazier said he told his teammates to sleep well and that on Saturday, “You are going to play the best game of your life.”
By qualifying for the final game, the United States are assured of a medal, as is Alvarez, the team’s starting second baseman. That means Alvarez, 31, will become the sixth person – the third American – to win a medal at the Winter and Summer Olympics. At the 2014 Sochi Games, Alvarez won a silver medal on the United States 5,000-meter relay team in short track speed skating.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said after Thursday’s game. “But the work is not yet finished.
After Thursday’s final, Alvarez sat in the dugout with his head bowed and cried. Afterward, he explained that he had reflected on his way from his hometown of Miami, where his family found themselves after fleeing Cuba, to become a two-time Olympian and major league player with the Marlins of the year. last.
“I started this journey since I was 6 years old,” he said. “I had no idea this was going to lead to me becoming a major league baseball player. I never thought I would one day make it to the baseball Olympics. I owe a lot to my family and to the generations who sacrificed a lot of their time to leave another country and ended up giving me opportunities. I got emotional because it’s so much more than my accomplishments.
South Korea, which won a gold medal the last time baseball was played at the 2008 Olympics, will face the Dominican Republic on Saturday afternoon for the bronze medal game.
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