South Korea Qualifies For Tokyo 2020 Baseball

(ATR) Korea defeats Mexico, leaving the USA with a chance to play for an Olympic spot.

(ATR) South Korea books a place in the 2020 Olympics with a 7-3 win over Mexico at the WBSC Premier 12 baseball tournament in Tokyo on Friday.

The Koreans will be the Asia/Oceania representative in the six-team Tokyo 2020 tournament, joining hosts Japan and Europe/Africa Olympic qualifier champion Israel in the six-team Tokyo 2020 tournament.

"We have been able to go to the Olympics so therefore I feel our burden of responsibility has been reduced by today's game," said South Korea manager Kyung-moon Kim. Kim led South Korea to gold at Beijing 2008, the last time baseball featured in an Olympics.

The Korean manager made wholesale changes to his batting order ahead of the game with Mexico after his team was shutout by Chinese Taipei in their last game.

After spotting Mexico a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning on a two-run home run by Jonathan Jones, the Koreans came storming back with seven runs in the bottom of the inning against four Mexican pitchers.

Mexico’s loss and the USA’s 3-2 win over Chinese Taipei earlier in the day means the United States and Mexico could meet in the bronze medal game to determine the Tokyo 2020 spot for the Americas on offer this week.

The final two Olympic berths will be decided in March 2020.

In the opening game of the day at Tokyo Dome, a long two-run home run from Brent Rooker in the seventh inning was the difference for the USA, which was trailing 2-1 to that point.

"Our pitchers have given us the chance to win every single game," USA manager Scott Brosius said after the win.

And while Rooker’s homer on Friday was "a huge one", Brosius said it’s not enough to rely only on the long ball.

"I think the challenges we’ve had in the tournament to this point are just kind of sustaining some rallies. Getting guys on base, making those adjustments earlier in the game to what the pitcher’s doing."

The United States, which completed the Super Round with a 2-3 record, still needs Chinese Taipei to beat Australia on Saturday in order to advance to face Mexico in the bronze medal game on Sunday. If Australia wins, Mexico would be the Americas representative at next summer’s Olympics.

Korea, the defending Premier 12 champions from 2015, and Japan are both 3-1 and already qualified for the Sunday's gold medal game. Before that, though, they play each other on Saturday night to complete the Super Round.

Homepage photo: WBSC

Written and reported by Gerard Farek in Tokyo

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