Japan wins its first Olympic gold in baseball as the sport once again leaves the Games along with softball and karate

USA took silver and Dominican Republic bronze. “It has been a tournament of great technical quality,” says WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Team Japan celebrate winning the Gold Medal Match. REUTERS/Jorge Silva      SEARCH "OLYMPICS DAY 16" FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR'S CHOICE, SEARCH "REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX" FOR ALL EDITOR'S CHOICE PICTURES.TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Team Japan celebrate winning the Gold Medal Match. REUTERS/Jorge Silva SEARCH "OLYMPICS DAY 16" FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR'S CHOICE, SEARCH "REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX" FOR ALL EDITOR'S CHOICE PICTURES.TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

With the main stars of its Professional League, Japan fulfilled the prediction and conquered the Olympic gold medal in baseball for the first time.

The Japanese defeated the United States 2-0 and placed in their trophy case the only hardware of a major international event they were missing after conquering the WBSC Premier 12 in 2019 and the Major League Baseball World Classic in 2006 and 2009.

“It was a tournament of great technical quality,” WBSC president Riccardo Fraccari told Around the Rings from Yokohama Stadium.

“The difference in the games was one or two runs, but it’s a pity there was no public, for the known reasons, but it was an event of excellence, just like the softball.”

Coincidentally‚ in this same scenario, in the women’s softball final, Japan defeated the United States by the same 2-0 score in the gold medal game.

These were the last official games of both sports in the Olympic Games as both, having been rejected by Paris 2024 along with karate, have again been removed from the Olympic Program.

However, for baseball and softball the horizon looks more favorable with the venues of Los Angeles 2028 and Brisbane 2032, with their popularity in the United States and Australia. IOC President Thomas Bach had praised karate on Friday among the new sports and events in Tokyo 2020.

For karate it was debut and farewell.

“I think the athletes when they received their medals realized what it means to be Olympic champions or silver or bronze medalists,” said Fraccari shortly after the award ceremony.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men's Team - Medal Ceremony - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Gold Medallists Japan celebrate on the pitch. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men's Team - Medal Ceremony - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Gold Medallists Japan celebrate on the pitch. REUTERS/Issei Kato

“It’s an experience that you don’t get to live all the time and not everyone can live it.

“All the teams were at the height of an event of great magnitude.

“I was told that there was madness of happiness in the Dominican Republic for their third place.

“With this show, people realize the importance of baseball and softball in the Olympic Games,” emphasized Fraccari.

Earlier, the Dominican Republic defeated South Korea 10-6 to win the bronze medal, its first medal in the history of these tournaments. The Dominicans made their only previous Olympics appearance in Barcelona 92.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Masato Morishita of Japan in action. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men - Gold Medal Match - United States v Japan - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Masato Morishita of Japan in action. REUTERS/Jorge Silva

Five Japanese pitchers, led by Masato Morishita, were in charge as they shut down the Americans, who failed to get a timely hit when they had men on base. Munetaka Murakami’s solo home run off Nick Martinez in the bottom of the third seemed to be enough. One more in the bottom of the eighth would already be mission impossible for Mike Scioscia’s team.

Scioscia, former manager of the Los Angeles Angels, could not match the feat of his mentor, the late Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, who led the United States to a gold medal against Cuba, 4-0, in Sydney 2000.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men's Team - Medal Ceremony - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Silver Medallists the United States, Gold Medallists Japan and Bronze Medallists the Dominican Republic celebrate on the podium. REUTERS/Issei Kato
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Baseball - Men's Team - Medal Ceremony - Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan - August 7, 2021. Silver Medallists the United States, Gold Medallists Japan and Bronze Medallists the Dominican Republic celebrate on the podium. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Prior to their first Olympic title on Saturday night, the Japanese won silver at Atlanta 96 and bronze at Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004. Japan became the fourth nation to win an Olympic gold medal, joining Cuba (1992, 1996, 2004). United States (2000) and South Korea (2008).

The United States collected its fourth medal. They won gold in Sydney 2000 and bronze in Atlanta 1996 and Beijing 2008. The Americans finished fourth in 1992 and did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics.

The big disappointment for Tokyo 2020 was three-time champion Cuba eliminated in the first round of the Americas Pre-Olympics in Florida.

A few hundred people in the stands of the Yokohama Stadium cheered especially for the Japanese. It was a crowd of mostly Olympic volunteers in orange T-shirts and masks in that nearly empty park with a capacity of 34,000.

The U.S. was unable to field any players on the 40-man rosters of the 30 major league clubs. That restriction has been in place since baseball was officially approved for the Games program in 1992.

Japan halted its major league season on July 17 and was able to call up its best local stars. It did not include its MLB stars, Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish, but they would not be missed.

Second baseman Eddy Alvarez fell short of winning gold, but he made history: he became the third American and the sixth athlete overall to win medals at the Winter and Summer Games, matching the silver he won as a speed skater at Sochi 2014.

At the end of the evening WBSC and Tokyo 2020 announced the Olympic All-Star Team:

Tetsuto Yamada (JAP) most valuable player of the tournament (MVP). Nick Allen (USA) best defensive player. Yoshinobu Yamamoto (JAP) right-handed pitcher. Anthony Gose (USA) left-handed pitcher. Takuya Kai (JAP) catcher. Triston Casas (USA) first baseman. Eddy Alvarez (USA) second base. Erick Mejía (DOM), third base.

Hayato Sakamoto (JAP) shortstop. Hyun-soo Kim (KOR) left fielder. Hay-min Park (KOR) center fielder

Mitch Glasser (ISR) right fielder. Tyler Austin (USA) designated hitter.

See you in Los Angeles in 2028!