Olympic Baseball 2021: Israel Earns 1st Win, Eliminates Mexico from Tokyo Games

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 1, 2021

Israel's Danny Valencia (19) celebrates with his teammates after hitting a three-run home run during a baseball game against Mexico at Yokohama Baseball Stadium during the 2020 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Israel's baseball team kept its medal hopes alive and sent Mexico packing in the process Sunday at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Facing a win-or-go-home scenario, Israel beat Mexico 12-5 for its first-ever win in Olympic baseball. The loss dropped Mexico to 0-3 and resulted in it being the first team to get eliminated from the tournament.

In the other game, South Korea beat the Dominican Republic 4-3. Both teams remain in the tournament, but the Dominican Republic is now one loss away from elimination.

Here is a rundown of Sunday's Olympic baseball scores and a breakdown of how each result came to pass.

Sunday Olympic Baseball Scores

Israel 12, Mexico 5 (eliminated)

South Korea 4, Dominican Republic 3

Sunday Olympic Baseball Recap

Israel 12, Mexico 5

After losing each of its two games in group play, Israel needed a win Sunday to remain in medal contention, and it came through in a big way with a 12-5 drubbing of Mexico.

Former MLB third baseman Danny Valencia, who played for seven different teams from 2010-18, was the offensive star for Israel in the game.

Valencia went 2-for-4 with a home runs, three RBI and three runs scored. The homer was a three-run shot in the third that gave Israel a 4-0 lead.

Israel also received some production from another notable former Major Leaguer in second baseman Ian Kinsler, who went 1-for-4 with two runs.

The 39-year-old Kinsler played for the Texas Rangers and four other teams during his 14-year career, earning four All-Star nods, two Gold Gloves and one World Series title.

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times noted that the win was significant for Israel not only because it staved off elimination, but because Israel had been in the midst of a lengthy drought in all team sports at the Olympics:

Bill Shaikin @BillShaikin

FINAL: Israel 12, Mexico 5.<br><br>First win for an Israeli Olympic baseball team.<br>First win for Israel in any Olympic team sport since 1968.

In order to remain in the tournament, Israel had to get past a Mexican team with plenty of former MLB talent in its own right.

Leading the way for designated hitter Adrian Gonzalez, who went 2-for-4 with one RBI. Gonzalez was a five-time All-Star and four-time Gold Glove award winner at first base in 15 MLB seasons from 2004-18.

Lefty reliever Oliver Perez pitched for eight different teams in his 19-year MLB career, including making five appearances for Cleveland this season at the age of 39.

Sunday wasn't Perez's day, as he surrendered four hits and four runs in just one-third of an inning, allowing Israel to put the game away.

Israel's next game will be Monday against South Korea, although the pressure won't be as great since the loser won't be immediately eliminated.

South Korea 4, Dominican Republic 3

South Korea overcame a 3-1 deficit entering the ninth inning and won 4-3 on a walk-off single by Hyunsoo Kim against the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

Kim enjoyed a huge game for Korea, going 4-for-5 with the game-winning RBI off Dominican reliever Luis Castillo.

James Wagner of the New York Times credited Korean manager Kyung-moon Kim with orchestrating the comeback:

James Wagner @ByJamesWagner

Wow, South Korea comes back again late, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Dominican Republic, 4-3. Manager Kyung-moon Kim pulled some strings &amp; Hyun-woo Kim had the walkoff hit.<br><br>Both teams still advance, but the Dominican Republic is eliminated w/ another loss.

Raul Valdes, a 43-year-old who pitched for five different MLB teams from 2010-14, put the Dominican Republic in great position to win, allowing just one run over 5.1 innings. Three relievers bridged the gap to Castillo, but the closer imploded, giving up four hits and three runs in the ninth.

Behind a lineup stacked with former MLB players, the Dominican Republic took a 3-1 lead in the fourth on a two-run home run by Juan Francisco, who played for four different teams from 2009-14.

Other notable former Major Leaguers in the Dominican Republic's lineup Sunday included Emilio Bonifacio, Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista, who combined to go just 2-for-10.

While Korea couldn't score much until the ninth inning, it put 10 runners on base against Valdes and ended up with 12 hits in the game compared to just six for the Dominican Republic.

South Korea won gold the last time baseball was part of the Olympic program in 2008, and it proved Sunday that it may have the pieces needed to repeat.

The Koreans will take on Israel on Monday, and the loser of that game will face the Dominican Republic on Tuesday, with the loser of Tuesday's game getting eliminated.