YOKOHAMA, Japan — Team USA manufactured a five-run sixth inning and got a solo home run from Jamie Westbrook to advance to the gold medal game of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 following a 7-2 victory over Korea in the semifinals at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on Thursday.
Saturday’s final will be the fourth time the U.S. will play in an Olympic gold medal game in its history (1984*, 1988*, 2000), having won the gold in the 1988 Seoul* and the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Nick Martinez will start for the stars and stripes in the finale, which will begin at 7 p.m. JST/6 a.m. EDT/3 a.m. PDT.
Additionally, with Team USA securing a spot in the gold medal game, Eddy Alvarez will become just the sixth athlete all-time to win an Olympic medal in both the Summer and Winter Games. He will be the third American athlete to do so, following Eddie Egan (1920, 1932) and Lauryn Williams (2004, 2012, 2014).
The U.S. took an early lead in the contest in the bottom of the second inning off Korea starter Euilee Lee. Mark Kolozsvary got on base with a one-out walk and advanced to second on a stolen base. Two batters later, Jack Lopez picked up his first knock of the tournament, sending an RBI-single to center field to put the red, white, and blue ahead 1-0.
Team USA would double its lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to Westbrook. With two outs in the bottom half of the frame, Westbrook launched the first pitch of the at-bat into the second level of the left-field stands, squeezing just past the foul pole to go up 2-0.
An RBI-single in the fifth inning allowed Korea to scratch its first run across the plate and forced the U.S. to its bullpen. Ryder Ryan came on in relief of starter Joe Ryan with runners on first and second and one out, and he immediately induced a 4-6-3 double play to escape the jam and keep the narrow 2-1 lead in favor of the stars and stripes.
Todd Frazier kickstarted the U.S. offense in the bottom half of the sixth, coming out the winning end of a 12-pitch battle with reliever Wonjoon Choi to put a runner on first base to lead off the inning. Westbrook followed with his second hit of the game to put runners on the corners with one out and Kolozsvary coming to the plate. He followed with an RBI-single through the left side to score Frazier and put the red, white, and blue up 3-1.
A walk to Nick Allen extended the inning, loading the bases with one out and forcing Korea to call on its fourth pitcher of the inning. Lopez then smacked the first pitch he saw from Songwoo Cho to left field for an RBI-single. Alvarez tallied an RBI on a hard groundout to first base to follow Lopez, and Tyler Austin came through with a clutch two-RBI single to center to push the U.S. ahead 7-1 heading into the seventh inning.
With Scott McGough on the bump for the U.S., Korea plated its second run of the game on an RBI-single, bringing the score to 7-2. But that was all the Korea offense could muster as Anthony Gose and Anthony Carter would combine to retire the last eight consecutive batters of the game, securing the victory and gold medal-game berth for Team USA.
Joe Ryan worked 4.1 innings and gave up four hits in his second start of the Olympic Games. He finished with three strikeouts and one walk and surrendered a run in a no-decision. Ryder Ryan (1-0) was stellar in his relief appearance, pitching a perfect 1.2 innings to preserve the U.S. lead into the seventh to get his first win of the tournament. McGough gave up three hits and a run in his 0.1 innings of work, and Gose (1.2 innings) and Carter (1.0 innings) added a pair of strikeouts each.
Austin, Westbrook, and Lopez led the team offensively, each finishing 2-for-4 on the night. Austin and Lopez also contributed a pair of RBIs, and Alvarez (1-for-4), Westbrook, and Kolozsvary (1-for-3, 2 runs) also tallied an RBI for the U.S.
Saturday’s gold medal game will be a rematch of the quarterfinal game between Japan and Team USA, a 7-6 extra-inning victory for Japan. It will also mark the third time Japan and the U.S. have squared off in an Olympic gold medal game, with Japan winning in 1984* and the U.S. winning in 1988*.