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Managers, players discuss Dominican Republic walk-off win against Israel at Tokyo 2020

Managers, players discuss Dominican Republic walk-off win against Israel at Tokyo 2020
03/08/2021
Hector Borg, Eric Holtz, José Bautista, Johan Mieses, Danny Valencia and Ian Kinsler answered questions from the media after the thrilling elimination game.

The Dominican Republic walked off Israel, 7-6, in an elimination game Tuesday night at Yokohama Stadium, setting up a date with the United States on Wednesday, 4 August, where the winner will lock in place in the second semifinal.

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The Dominican Republic was trailing, 6-5, after eight innings. With three outs away from elimination, slugger Johan Mieses tied the game with a towering home run off Zack Weiss in the bottom of the ninth.

"I was thinking about making good contact," said Mieses. "The guys kept yelling 'put the ball in play' from the dugout. I got a fastball right where I like it and took a good swing at it."

Former Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star José Bautista singled on a hanging breaking ball by DJ Sharabi and walked the game off in the bottom of the ninth.

"It's my first hit in the tournament," said Bautista, "and it came at the right time. We were facing packing our bags and go home. Now we look forward to the medal race."

On the emotion of the final hit: "I’ve played in different stages in my career at all different levels, they’re all thrilling in their own way but when you’re representing your country there’s a sense of pride and patriotism which doesn’t play into it when you’re playing in a professional sports league." 

Was the first pitch by Sharabi as close as it looked on TV?
"I don't know, I wasn't watching TV," joked Bautista. "It was definitely a close pitch, but this is baseball. The umpire's call this time went in our favour."

How do you get ready for tomorrow's day game against the United States?
"You grab some food, hydrate, have a good sleep. I've done it many times before. We'll be ready."

Dominican manager Hector Borg also believes his team will be ready.
"We have a great team, we know the US will be a tough opponent, but we are ready to come together and do our best to win."

Israel came within three outs from the win. Danny Valencia homered in the eight off Jumbo Diaz to put them ahead.

"I feel sad this has come to an end," commented Valencia. "It will take some time to go over it. It would have been amazing to go home with a win, but it's been a fun run anyway. Tokyo was fantastic, and I couldn't be more proud of my teammates and our manager. Hopefully, what we did will inspire kids to pick up a bat and a glove in Israel."

Manager Eric Holtz added: "The journey that began four years ago is not over. We will be competing in the European Championship in September. Right now, I want everybody to see where Israel Baseball comes from and where we are now, one inning from upsetting the Dominican Republic. If we can inspire people to play baseball in Israel, then we have done our job well."

On a final note, Bautista explained what took the two teams to shake hands after the game.
"Public opinion didn't believe Israel came here as the favourites, but they were able to put us against the wall. 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."

Ian Kinsler, another former MLB All-Star, felt the same.
"It was a hard-fought game. They tried as hard as we did. Sportsmanship is what's the Olympics is all about."