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Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Japan walks off USA in 10, sets up Olympic baseball semifinal with Korea

Japan walks off USA in 10, sets up Olympic baseball semifinal with Korea
02/08/2021
Japan will now face Korea in the first semifinal of the Olympic baseball competition on Wednesday, at 7 p.m. JST.

Takuya Kai hit a walk-off single in the bottom of the tenth inning to bring in Ryosuke Kikuchi and seal a come-from-behind 7-6 quarterfinal win for world No. 1 Japan over No. 4 USA at Yokohama Stadium on Monday night.

The US had a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Seiya Suzuki scored the tying run on a grounder to second base to push the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the third, US starter Shane Baz retired the first two hitters, but then Hayato Sakamoto doubled to center field and scored on an RBI single by Masataka Yoshida, who launched a bullet to center field. Baz loaded the bases with back to back walks, and Yuki Yanagita singled in the second run with a hard grounder to shortstop, well fielded by Nick Allen but with no real chance to get an out. With the game 2-0 for Japan, manager Mike Scioscia replaced Baz for Brandon Dickson, who retired Ryosuke Kikuchi for the third out.

One inning later, Todd Frazier hit an RBI double to left field off Masahiro Tanaka, his former teammate with the MLB New York Yankees, to score Triston Casas. Moments later, RBI singles by Eric Filia and Kolozsvary gave the US a 3-2 lead.

Japan tied the game quickly in the home half of the fourth, with a two-out single by Sakamoto, which brought in Munetaka Murakami from second base.

Manager Atsunori Inaba sent Koyo Aoyagi to pitch the fifth inning, but the reliever allowed four consecutive hits, including an opposite-field, three-run homer off the bat of Tristan Casas, to give USA a 6-3 lead.

Anthony Carter came in for USA in the bottom of the fifth, but Seiya Suzuki, the WBSC Premier12 2019 MVP, received him with a towering home run that landed in the upper rows of the left field stands. Hideto Asamura followed with a double, and one out later he scored on a single by Ryosuke Kikuchi, to make it 6-5.

In the second half of the game, both bullpens kept the game moving.

In the sixth inning, Japan reliever Koudai Senga registered the fastest ball thrown at the Tokyo 2020 Games, hitting 159 km/h (99 MPH) on the radar gun.

Japan threatened in the bottom of the eighth. With two outs, Tetsuto Yamada walked, stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Kolozsvary. However, David Robertson struck out Sakamoto leaving the potential tying run on third base.

In the ninth, Samurai Japan tied the game. Scott McGough received the ball in a save situation but couldn’t hold the lead. Suzuki drew a one-out walk, and moved to third on a single to right field by Hideto Asamura, to finally score on a soft grounder to second base by Yanagita.

With the tie-break runners on first and second to start the 10th inning, Ryoji Kuribayashi took the mound for Japan and struck out Frazier with four pitches for the first out. Then Filia grounded to second and Kolozsvary flied to left field, leaving the game still tied.

In Japan’s tenth at bat, pinch-hitter Ryoya Kurihara bunted to first base moving the two runners into scoring position, and Kai sent an opposite field line drive off the right field wall for the walk-off win.

Japan will now face Korea in the first semifinal of the Olympic baseball competition on Wednesday, at 7 p.m. JST. The winner of the game will advance to the Gold Medal Game on 7 August, while the loser will have a second chance to make the final on Thursday, in the second semifinal of the competition.

The US will now play the winner of the Dominican Republic-Israel elimination game.