Olympic Baseball 2021: Japan Beats USA on Walk-off Hit to Advance to Semifinals

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVAugust 2, 2021

YOKOHAMA, JAPAN - AUGUST 02: Seiya Suzuki #51 of Team Japan returns to the dugout after hitting a solo home run in the fifth inning during the knockout stage of men's baseball on day ten of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Baseball Stadium on August 02, 2021 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images)
Yuichi Masuda/Getty Images

Japan defeated the United States in walk-off fashion in the Tokyo Olympics men's baseball knockout stage Monday, sealing a 7-6 win in 10 innings.

The host country advanced to the semifinal to face South Korea, which easily defeated Israel for its spot in the next round.

The double-elimination tournament will give United States a chance to play for medals through the repechage bracket, but it will be a tougher path to gold.

Monday Results

Japan def. United States, 7-6 (10 innings)

South Korea def. Israel, 11-1

Scores and schedule available at Olympics.com.

Monday Recap

The two favorites of the tournament finally came together Monday, and they did not disappoint, with USA and Japan needing extra innings to settle things.

Down 6-5 in the ninth inning, Japan's Yuki Yanagita tied the game in the ninth inning with an RBI groundout against Scott McGough.

Two batters start on base in extra innings in the Olympics, but the United States was unable to score in the top of the 10th. Japan didn't have the same problems, butting over the runners to start the inning before Takuya Kai hit a long single off Edwin Jackson to give the home team the walk-off win.

The United States had seemingly put itself in position to win thanks to a three-run home run by Boston Red Sox prospect Triston Casas:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

Triston Casas plays LONG BALL! 👀<br><br>It's a three-run shot and a Team USA lead. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/f1727Q3a5L">pic.twitter.com/f1727Q3a5L</a>

It came after the Americans chased former MLB starter Masahiro Tanaka from the game. The former New York Yankees star had six strikeouts but allowed three runs in just 3.2 innings.

Veteran major leaguer Todd Frazier had one of the key hits early to keep Team USA alive:

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

THE TODDFATHER! ⚾️<a href="https://twitter.com/USABaseball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@USABaseball</a> is on the board in the 4th. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TokyoOlympics?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#TokyoOlympics</a> <a href="https://t.co/UHmgYcBznl">pic.twitter.com/UHmgYcBznl</a>

The United States eventually built a 6-3 lead after Casas' homer, but Japan fought back with two runs in the fifth before tying it up in the ninth.

Japan is now one win away from the gold-medal game, while Team USA needs two more wins to get there and no margin for error. They will face the winner of Israel and the Dominican Republican in the next game, and another loss will remove any chance at a gold medal.

South Korea is in good position to medal after an easy 11-1 victory over Israel in the other Round 2 matchup.

Minwoo Kim allowed just two hits in 4.1 innings, while the only run Israel scored came on a bases-loaded walk in the fifth inning. Former MLB players Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia were held hitless at the top of the order for Israel.

South Korea had no such problems at the plate with 11 runs, including a seven-run fifth inning that led to the rout. Designated hitter Baekho Kang went 4-for-4 with two RBI, while Ji Hwan Oh hit one of the team's two home runs in the win.

The win clinches at least a trip to the bronze-medal game for South Korea, but the squad likely has its eyes on gold heading into the semifinals against Japan.