Team USA’s baseball team began its run at the 2020 Summer Games in Yokohama, Japan, with a convincing win over Israel in the group stage on Friday. Tyler Austin’s two-run homer propelled the Americans to an 8-1 victory.
In addition to his home run, Austin, an MLB veteran, went 3 for 5 with two doubles and three RBIs at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
The game was Team USA’s first Olympic baseball competition since the 2008 Summer Games, when the sport was last included in the Olympic sports lineup.
Team USA pitcher Joe Ryan allowed five hits and one run in six innings to pick up a win. Second baseman Eddy Alvarez and right fielder Eric Filia recorded two hits apiece in the win.
Neither team scored for the first two innings. Team USA shortstop Nick Allen then sparked a rally with a single in the second at-bat of the third. Allen moved to second base on a wild pitch and came around to score on an Alvarez double in the next at-bat.
Austin then took the batter’s box to face Israel starter Joey Wagman. The Americans took a 3-0 lead after the designated hitter smacked Wagman’s first pitch to centre field for a two-run homer.
Danny Valencia responded with a solo homer to lead off the top of the fourth inning, but Israel did not score another run.
Team USA secured the victory by adding runs in each of the final four innings.
In the top of the sixth, centre fielder Bubba Starling hit an RBI single. In the seventh inning, Alvarez and Austin drove in two more runs with RBI doubles.
Starling plated the Americans’ seventh run on an RBI groundout. First baseman Triston Casas drove in the final run with an RBI single in the ninth.
Team USA is tied with South Korea atop Group B, ahead of 0-2 Israel. Japan leads Group A at 1-0. The Dominican Republic is 1-1 and in second place in Group A, ahead of 0-1 Mexico.
The Dominican Republic beat Mexico on Friday in Yokohama. Team USA battles South Korea in its next game at 6 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSN.
Team USA claimed a silver medal Tuesday in softball, which also made its return to the Summer Games for the first time since 2008.
Japan’s players celebrate after their victory against the United States in the final in Yokohama, Kanagawa-Prefecture, Japan on July 27. Photo by Keizo Mori