As the opening game of Tokyo 2020 came to a close, the Samurai Japan staged a dramatic comeback and took the victory.
Baseball’s return to the Olympic Games schedule was marked by IOC President Thomas Bach’s attendance at the opening game between Japan and the Dominican Republic at the Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium. Japan won the series opener, 4-3, thanks to a walk-off single by Hayato Sakamoto in the ninth inning.
Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Cristopher Mercedes put on a dominant pitching performance in the first two thirds of the game. The Japanese right-hander threw six scoreless innings, allowing just a single in the first inning while fanning nine batters.
Japan Vs Dominican
The Dominican lefty allowed only two hits in six innings while striking out seven batters.
When Koyo Aoyagi entered the game as Japan’s first reliever, Juan Francisco and Erick Mejia each reached on an infield single. Charlie Valerio started the Olympic baseball scoring with a double to the left-center gap with two outs.
Mercedes allowed two runners to reach scoring position in the bottom of the seventh after allowing singles to Hideto Asamura and a double by Yuki Yanigata. To keep the damage to a minimum, Mercedes was replaced by right-hander Luis Castillo, who retired Ryosuke Kikuchi, got Munetaka Murakami to hit an RBI ground out, then got Takuya Kai to fly out.
After only one inning, Japan was in a position to potentially tie the game. Tetsuto Yamada, the Japanese team’s leadoff hitter, was stranded on second when Masataka Yoshida singled to left field, but he tried to score when Johan Mieses threw him out at the plate. While Inaba contested, the play was upheld.
In the top of the ninth, Gustavo Nuez drove in a run with a double against Ryoji Kuribayashi for the Dominican Republic, bringing the score to 3-1.
Losing the Game Due to a Blown Save
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Dominican manager Hector Borg gave the ball to right-handed pitcher Jairo Asencio, who ended up losing the game due to a blown save. Asencio got the first out of the inning, but then he gave up three hits in a row, the last of which was an RBI single by Murakami that narrowed the deficit to just one run.
The bases were loaded when Yamada hit a single, prompting the relieving pitcher Jhan Martinez to enter the game. The right-hander got into trouble and was unable to work out of it, resulting in a walk-off hit for the winning run by Hayato Sakamoto, who hit a long single to centre field.
Kuribayashi, who pitched the ninth inning for Japan, earned the victory after allowing just two hits and one run. With 2 outs, he was unable to reach base. Asencio took the defeat despite getting the final out of the ninth.
As a result of the victory, Japan is now atop Group A. This group stage will conclude on Saturday with a match between Mexico and Japan. The Dominican Republic will face Mexico on Friday.
Group B kicks off at Yokohama Stadium tomorrow night at 7 p.m. EST with a matchup between Beijing 2008 gold medalists Korea and tournament newcomers Israel.
As always, we appreciate you taking the time to read our piece Japan Vs Dominican Republic Baseball Olympics.