Japan tops USA, wins country’s first Olympic baseball gold medal; DOM takes historic bronze; All-Olympic Team named
YOKOHAMA, Japan -- World No. 1 Japan shut out No. 4 USA, 2-0, to win the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball gold medal August 7, Saturday night at Yokohama Stadium, concluding the 16-game tournament and sending social media into a frenzy.
Munetaka Murakami’s solo home run in the bottom of the third inning would be the only run Japan would need, with winning pitcher Masato Morishita (5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 K) and relievers Koudai Senga, Hiromi Itoh, Suguru Iwazaki and Ryoji Kuribayashi combining on the shutout.
"I'm so happy we won a gold medal," said Murakami, "and I'm so proud of being a member of Samurai Japan. Our starter was on top of the game, so when I stepped into the box in the third, I thought one run could be enough to win."
USA’s Nick Martinez (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 7 K), who was tagged with the loss, was also sharp on the mound, only surrendering the run off Murakami’s bat in the third.
"The home run was just a nice piece of hitting by Murakami," said Martinez.
The win represents Japan’s the first-ever Olympic gold medal in baseball and Japan becomes the first Olympic host nation to win the gold medal in baseball on home soil.
"Winning the Olympics on home soil is very special,” said Japan manager Atsunori Inaba. "Winning gold shows the world the strength of Japanese baseball, and this success will bring more people to baseball in Japan, also."
“I congratulate Japan on the gold medal,” said US manager Mike Scioscia, “but I don't want to congratulate Japan only. I tip my cap to every team we faced. Every day we had the challenges of game seven. All six teams represented baseball in the best way possible."
Japan’s Tetsuto Yamada, who scored the second run of the gold medal game, was named the most valuable player (MVP) of the Tokyo 2020 tournament.
“We won thanks to the help of a lot of people,” Inaba said. “Now I want the younger players to return to their club and share what they learned during this tournament. We want to set up a culture of international baseball for the future."
Looking at future Olympic Games, Scioscia said: "It's an incredible oversight not having baseball included as a permanent sport in the Summer Olympics."
In the bronze medal game at Saturday, world No. 7 Dominican Republic defeated No. 3 Korea, 10-6, as the Dominican Republic earned its first-ever Olympic medal in baseball, which is also the nation’s first-ever Olympic medal in a team sport.
Dominican Republic becomes the seventh nation/territory in history to win a medal in baseball at the Olympic Games, following Cuba, Japan, USA, Korea, Australia and Chinese Taipei.
Capping off the 16-game tournament, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), together with Tokyo 2020 organizers, named the Tokyo 2020 All-Olympic Baseball Team, with five of the participating six nations represented.
Tokyo 2020 All-Olympic Baseball Team
• Best RHP - Yoshinobu Yamamoto (JPN)
• Best LHP - Anthony Gose (USA)
• Takuya Kai- C (JPN)
• Triston Casas - 1B (USA)
• Eddie Alvarez - 2B (USA)
• Erick Mejia - 3B (DOM)
• Hayato Sakamoto - SS (JPN)
• Hyunso Kim - LF (KOR)
• Hay Min Park - CF (KOR)
• Mitch Glasser - RF (ISR)
• Tyler Austin - DH (USA)
• Defensive Player: Nick Allen (USA)
• MVP - Tetsuto Yamada (JPN)