28/07/2021 - 07/08/2021

@wbsc    

Hosted by:   JPN

Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Yamada's bases-clearing double sends Japan to Olympic Baseball Gold Medal Game

Yamada's bases-clearing double sends Japan to Olympic Baseball Gold Medal Game
04/08/2021
Yamada supplied some late-game heroics to break a Japan-Korea 2-2 tie in the 8th inning.

Japan's Tetsuto Yamada struck again against rival Korea, providing the firepower to give his country the victory. His bases loaded double in the eighth-inning broke a 2-2 tie with Korea and helped send Japan into the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Baseball gold medal game. Yamada also blasted a game-changing home run against Korea in the final of the 2019 WBSC Premier12.

In the bottom of the third inning, Samurai Japan manager played small ball to produce the first run of the game. With runners in first and second, leadoff man Yamada moved the runners with a sacrifice bunt and then Munetaka Murakami scored easily from third on a long sacrifice fly to center field by shortstop Hayato Sakamoto.

After Lee’s first-inning double, Japan starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto retired 12 of the next 13 Korean batters, striking out eighth of them.

Japan added one run to the scoreboard in the home half of the fifth. Yamada started things off with a line drive double into the gap between center and right field, and later scored from third with a run-scoring single by Masataka Yoshida.

Korea answered with three consecutive hits to open their sixth at bat, including an RBI single off the bat of Baekho Kang to score Hae-Min Park. The leadoff man had singled to left field, and reached second on a fielding error by Kensuke Kondoh. 

With runners in the corners and no outs, Yamamoto struck out Euiji Kim, before manager Atsunori Inaba pulled him off after 94 pitches. Lefty Suguru Iwazaki picked the ball to pitch red-hot lefty Hyun-Soo Kim, but the veteran outfielder sent a breaking pitch to center field for a game-tying base hit. Iwazaki got out of the inning striking out Jaeil Oh and Ji-Hwan Oh.

With two outs in the eighth Korea threatened again when Hyun-Soo Kim doubled down the left line off reliever Hiromi Itoh, who had pitched a socelss seventh, but the right hander got pinch-hitter Joohwan Choi on a grounder to second base and keep the 2-2 deadlock in the scoreboard.

In the bottom of the eighth, Japan loaded the bases with two outs off Woosuk Go. Kensuke Kondoh reached on a fielders choice, and moved to second on a wild pitch. With first base empty, Korean manager Kyung-Moon Kim intentionally walked Munetaka Murakami to face Takuya Kai, but the Japanese catcher drew a walk to load the bases. And then Yamada crushed the first pitch for a bases-clearing double off the left field wall to give Japan a 5-2 lead. 

"I was in the batter's box with the bases loaded, but I decided to hit the first pitch with the intention of finishing off an early fastball," Yamada said. "I thought the ball was coming in, but I was able to catch it right off the bat.

Ryoji Kurabayashi took the mound for Japan in the ninth and got the save. The winning pitcher was Itoh, who tossed two innings with one hit, one walk and three strikeouts. Yamamoto pitched 5.1 innings allowing five hits and two runs, while striking out nine. Woosuk Go got the loss for Korea.

Japan will now play in the Gold Medal Game is on Saturday 7 August, 7 p.m. JST, and await the winner of the Korea-USA second semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m.