Olympic Baseball 2021: Team USA Defeats Israel to Open Group Play

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 30, 2021

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - JULY 30: Tyler Austin #23 of Team United States celebrates with Triston Casas #26 after hitting a two-run home run in the third inning against Team Israel during the baseball opening round Group B game on day seven of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on July 30, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Team USA baseball opened group play at the Tokyo Olympics with a convincing 8-1 victory over Israel on Friday at Yokohama Stadium in Japan.

Tyler Austin delivered the game's key hit, a two-run homer in the third inning to give the United States a 3-0 lead, and the Americans added at least one run in each of the game's final four frames to pull away.

The Dominican Republic defeated Mexico in the day's other baseball action.

July 30 Baseball Results

United States 8, Israel 1

Dominican Republic 1, Mexico 0

Group A Standings

1. Japan (1-0)

2. Dominican Republic (1-1)

3. Mexico (0-1)

Group B Standings

1. United States (1-0, +7 run differential)

2. South Korea (1-0, +1 run differential)

3. Israel (0-2)

Baseball Day 3 Recap

Austin was the player of the game for the U.S. with three hits, three runs batted in and two runs scored across five at-bats. Eddy Alvarez, one of Team USA's flag bearers at the Opening Ceremony, added a pair of hits and two RBI in the win.

It was also a strong night for the Americans' pitching staff. Starter Joe Ryan allowed just one run across six innings with five strikeouts. Relievers Ryder Ryan, Brandon Dickson and Anthony Carter added three shutout innings out of the bullpen to close it out.

Rather than MLB stars, the U.S. roster is made up of free agents, veterans playing in other leagues around the globe and prospects with the MLB season ongoing.

"I couldn't keep my heart rate down. It was crazy," Austin, who plays for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan, told reporters. "A pretty special night, to say the least."

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Tyler Austin HAMMERS it to put <a href="https://twitter.com/USABaseball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@usabaseball</a> up 3 - 0 🔨<a href="https://twitter.com/TeamUSA?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@teamusa</a> x <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a><br><br>💻 <a href="https://t.co/1TtURPkHCz">https://t.co/1TtURPkHCz</a><br>📱 NBC Sports App <a href="https://t.co/gEhgQtNk4Z">pic.twitter.com/gEhgQtNk4Z</a>

Danny Valencia, a free-agent infielder who's played nine MLB seasons, delivered the only run for Israel with a solo home run in the fourth inning.

"This is kind of for me the icing on the cake for a long career," Valencia said.

The United States and South Korea will face off Saturday with the top spot in Group B on the line. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Japan (6 a.m. ET in the U.S.).

Meanwhile, former Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Angel Sanchez combined with four Dominican Republic relievers (Ramon Rosso, Dario Alvarez, Jose Diaz and Luis Castillo) on a four-hit shutout to beat Mexico.

The game's only run came in the fifth when longtime MLB outfielder Melky Cabrera singled home catcher Charlie Valerio, who'd opened the inning with a double.

It was an important bounce-back win for the Dominicans, who gave up three runs in the bottom of the ninth in a 4-3 loss to the host nation of Japan in their tournament opener Wednesday.

Group A play concludes Saturday at 12 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET Friday in the U.S.) as Japan takes on Mexico.

The Olympic baseball tournament's knockout stages begin Sunday.