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KOR-JPN, DOM-USA managers, players discuss Olympic baseball Day 8

KOR-JPN, DOM-USA managers, players discuss Olympic baseball Day 8
04/08/2021
In the eighth, Tetsuto Yamada drove in three tie-breaking runs for Japan, after striking out with the bases loaded in the sixth. Triston Casas hit his third home run in as many games to push US into the semifinals.

Japan beat Korea, 5-2, to advance to the gold medal game. It's the first Olympic final for Samurai Japan since 1996. The 2008 defending gold medallists Korea will meet United States in the second semifinal of the Tokyo 2020 tournament.

FULL GAME REPORT BOX SCORE

Tetsuto Yamada doubled with the bases loaded off Sang-woo Cho to break a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the eighth.

"I was very frustrated after striking out with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth," Yamada said. "I stepped to the box intending to hit the first pitch because I was expecting a fastball early in the count. I was able to get the most of it."

Yamada bunted Takuya Tai to third base in the bottom of the third. The catcher would score the first run of the game.

"The manager told me before the game that he would consider asking me to bunt if the right situation came. I've been practising bunts since we started the preparation for Tokyo 2020. I was ready to execute."

Japan manager Atsunori Inaba said: "Our goal is to win a gold medal, but you can't win if you don't qualify for the final. The team played very consistent baseball, and this has taken us to Saturday's gold medal game. We now need to concentrate and come together for that game."

Yamada wouldn't have had a chance to hit in the eighth had Korea completed a double play on a grounder to first by Kensuke Kondoh. The umpiring crew called Kondoh safe after an on-field review.

"The umpires reviewed the play on the bag. They didn't review if Kondoh had taken the turn to second," commented Korea's manager Kyung-moon Kim. "My players believed he had taken this turn and should be called out, but I believe you have to respect the decision the umpires came up with. I'm not going to argue that."

Korea right fielder Jung-hoo Lee added: "This was not the last game of the Olympics. We have another game tomorrow. We are going to do our best to win it.

Earlier on the day, the United States beat the Dominican Republic, 3-1, and earned a spot in the semifinal scheduled for Thursday, 5 August. The Dominican Republic will play in the bronze medal game on Saturday, 7 August.

FULL GAME REPORT BOX SCORE

The US jumped ahead as Triston Casas hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first off starter Denyi Reyes. They both play in the Boston Red Sox organization.

"I had one career at-bat off of Denyi Reyes in spring training, and I hit a home run over the batter’s eye, as well," commented Casas. "So 2-for-2, with a walk."

Casas is leading the US with three home runs in four games.
"At the end of the tournament,” Casas added, "nobody’s going to remember really how many home runs I hit or how many runs I drive in. It’s just whether we came home with that gold."

Casas said of the Olympic baseball tournament "puts pressure on both sides of the ball, on defence and offence...really just trying to focus on winning. In affiliated ball, sometimes you can get out of that mindset."

Tyler Austin provided the US third run with a solo home run off Dominican reliever Gabriel Arias in the fifth.

"I was looking for one pitch, but I let it go. That's it. Fortunately, I didn't miss the next one, said Austin".

MLB veteran Scott Kazmir escaped a first-inning bases-loaded jam and earned the win, pitching five scoreless innings.

"I felt like I still had a lot in me," Kazmir said. "I have two little boys. I want them to see me play and not just see a video or anything like that. I feel like that’s a huge motivation for me."

Kazmir commented on his strategy: "After Bautista hit a double on my change-up, it seemed like other players were sitting on that (same pitch), so I went to my cutter. I had a great feel of the ball, so I could move it up and down and mostly inside. I was able to get them off balance."

Kazmir also commented on the intensity of the tournament.
"There’s been so much passion this entire Olympics. Every single team is in with every single pitch. It almost feels like a World Series game. Every single game, every single pitch. Even with no fans, it is a special moment to be a part of this."

The Dominican Republic couldn't build on three defensive errors and scored their lone run in the ninth against David Robertson.

"We opened the door for them with some really uncharacteristic errors by us," said US manager Mike Scioscia. "Normally, we play great defence, but today we didn’t. So, it was upon our pitchers to make good pitches."

Jose Bautista, who walked off the elimination game against Israel with a base hit, struck out swinging against reliever Scott McGough in the top of the seventh with two runners on.

"I was looking for a good pitch to drive," commented Bautista. "He made some good quality pitches down in the zone. He got the calls he needed. Unfortunately, it did not go my way. Baseball can go either way, and that was one of those moments."

Manager Hector Borg already has his mind set on the bronze medal game.
"We have every expectation of winning that bronze medal. We are going to be focused 100% on that win. So hopefully we can bring back that medal we want so badly to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic. That is what is motivating us, to bring that medal back to our country."