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Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball walk-off opener: Japan-Dominican Republic manager, player reactions

Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball walk-off opener: Japan-Dominican Republic manager, player reactions
28/07/2021
Baseball's first Olympic game in 13 years did not disappoint.

The Samurai Japan National Team recorded the first Olympic win in the sport of baseball since it was last played at the 2008 Beijing Games.

The top-ranked team in the world scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth to come from behind and defeat No. 7 Dominican Republic, 4-3, in an electric opener of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball tournament.

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During the post-game press conference, Samurai Japan manager Atsunori Inaba credited his starting pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto: "I think he had a great day today."

Inaba spoke about the spirit that led to a comeback.
"The fact the Dominican Republic scored first made the game much harder. We never gave up, and that led to our victory."

Regarding playing the opener at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium, Inaba said:
"I really hope our victory will inspire the people who live here."

Yoshinobu Yamamoto was happy about not allowing a run in six innings.
"This was the first game, so I was definitely a bit nervous. Some of my pitches were not very good. However, I did make sure that I would not allow a run so the opposing team would be ahead of us. Overall, I think my pitching was very good. I’m glad I was able to contribute."

Star shortstop Hayato Sakamoto, who drove in the decisive run, said: "First of all, I’m very relieved to have our first win today. The first half of the match, was a heavy atmosphere and everybody was nervous, but everybody on the bench was cheering us on. I’m very relieved to get the win today."

The Dominican Republic manager Hector Borg commented about Japan being effective with the short ball.

"This is something that happens a lot in Japanese baseball," Borg said. "We were expecting that it might happen. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to respond to it the right way, but these are things that happen during a game. We are ready to move on to the next game."

Starting pitcher, Christopher Mercedes gave the Dominican Republic six scoreless innings.
"I felt happy and excited to perform and be a part of this Dominican national team. It was also a privilege to serve as the starting pitcher in this opening game against Japan. I felt really good and excited. It felt great."