Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Baseball – Men – Opening Round – Group A – Japan v Mexico – Yokohama Baseball Stadium, Yokohama, Japan – July 31, 2021. Ryoji Kuribayashi of Japan in action. REUTERS/Jorge Silva
July 31, 2021
(Corrects to ‘three-run’ in fourth par)
By Paresh Dave
YOKOHAMA, Japan (Reuters) -Japan on Saturday slugged past Mexico 7-4, earning themselves a day off before the quarter-finals begin while sending their opponents into an elimination game against Israel.
Mexico in the first inning brought home the game’s initial run with help from a wild pitch and a single, but they never led again.
Masato Morishita, 23, Nippon Professional Baseball’s fourth-best pitcher this year by earned-run average, gave up two runs on five hits over five innings. His bullpen largely closed the door on Mexico from there.
Tetsuto Yamada hit a three-run blast into the first row in left field in the fourth inning to put up Japan 5-1, and team mate Hayato Sakamoto took a fastball down the middle to the fourth row in left two innings later to extend the lead.
Sebastian Elizalde of Mexico pounded a two-run homer in the eighth to almost the same spot as the other long balls, giving Japan a late scare.
Mexico relied on pitchers, young and old, who have played professionally in their home country.
After a drizzly first three days of Olympic baseball, temperatures soared to 32 degrees Celsius with over 60% humidity for Saturday’s action.
South Korea and the United States are scheduled for later Saturday under six towers of lights, with the winner playing Japan on Monday. The loser will take on the Dominican Republic on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, Olympic newcomers Mexico and Israel – both 0-2 – go up against each other with the loser out of the Games.
(Reporting by Paresh DaveEditing by Shri Navaratnam)