Olympics-U.S. baseball team clinches slot in Tokyo

The United States baseball team won a spot in the Tokyo Olympics after defeating Venezuela 4-2 on Saturday and securing the best record in the Americas qualifier tournament.


Reuters | Updated: 06-06-2021 08:04 IST | Created: 06-06-2021 08:04 IST
Olympics-U.S. baseball team clinches slot in Tokyo

The United States baseball team won a spot in the Tokyo Olympics after defeating Venezuela 4-2 on Saturday and securing the best record in the Americas qualifier tournament. Team USA will join reigning champion South Korea, Japan and underdogs Israel and Mexico in the Olympics. A final spot will be up for grabs among the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Australia and Netherlands during a June 22-26 tournament in Puebla, Mexico.

Former New York Mets infielder Todd Frazier notched four hits for the United States on Saturday, scoring two runs and driving in two. Left-handed outfielder Eric Filia hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning to give the United States a lead. Baseball is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Organizers voted it and softball off the regular program but brought them back temporarily for Tokyo, where the sports are beloved.

The U.S. Major League Baseball season conflicts with the Olympics and it long has refused to break to let players on big-league rosters compete on the international stage, including qualifiers. That has hurt several countries that have stars playing in MLB. A Venezuela victory on Saturday would have triggered tie-break rules that could have left it or the Dominican team with the Olympic berth.

Venezuela had chances to rally, including when it loaded the bases in the first inning. But pitcher Matthew Liberatore, a St. Louis Cardinals prospect ranked as the 30th best minor leaguer, benefited from double plays and stellar defense by shortstop Nick Allen. Major league veteran Edwin Jackson Jr was part of a trio of arms to close out the game for the United States.

The U.S. path to Tokyo cleared after it thrashed Canada 10-1 on Friday, as chants of "U-S-A" rung out from the few thousand people in attendance. Six of the U.S. runs came after an unusual 40-minute on-field dispute during the eight inning over grounds rules. The Americas tournament was held at two MLB training stadiums in Florida, nearly 15 months behind schedule because of the pandemic.

The Dominican Republic took Canada out of Olympics contention with 6-5 victory earlier Saturday. Three-time gold medal winner Cuba exited qualifiers early, losing out on a Olympics slot for the first time ever. Puerto Rico, Nicaragua and Colombia also suffered earlier knockouts.

The United States has one gold once, in 2000.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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