Players of Japan celebrate after the baseball final between Japan and the United States at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Yokohama, Japan, Aug. 7, 2021. (Xinhua/Xue Yubin)
YOKOHAMA, Japan, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Hosts Japan beat the United States 2-0 in the baseball final to claim the gold medal at the Tokyo Games Saturday at the Yokohama Stadium, south of the capital of Tokyo.
It is Japan's first Olympic gold in baseball since the sport was officially included in the program in 1992. Over the past five editions of the Olympics, Cuba claimed the title three times, while the USA and South Korea each won gold once.
In the third inning, Japan's Murakami Munetaka hit a one-run homer to help Japan take a 1-0 lead. Then in the bottom of the 8th inning, Japanese Yoshida Masataka advanced to second base while Yamada Tetsuto advanced to third base. On a throwing error made by the USA's center fielder Yamada helped Japan score one more run to nail a 2-0 victory.
After the game, USA team manager Mike Scioscia congratulated all six teams that participated in the Olympics, in particular the Japanese team. "We played very high intensity games to get here. I don't think it's anything that surprised us. I think it's remarkable where our team played really under such different circumstances," he said.
"I have nothing but positive to throw at all these guys-- the way they handle themselves, they way they practice hard. They played the game hard," he said, "they represented the United States very well, represented our game very well. We're proud of them."
Japanese team manager Inaba Atsunori said that the victory has demonstrated the strength of Japanese baseball, has shown the beauty of baseball to children and said he hopes baseball can win popularity around the world again.
He noted that his team has been preparing to clinch gold at Tokyo 2020 since their defeat at the 2008 Beijing Games. "We won today probably because our players have a stronger belief in themselves."
Speaking of Japanese baseball in general, he said it had gradually changed from being highly defense-oriented to becoming more aggressive, with a focus on speed and power.
Baseball, first introduced to the Olympics in 1992 at the Barcelona Games, was voted out from both the 2012 and 2016 Games along with its sister game softball. At the Tokyo Olympics, baseball/softball have been reinstated to the program, but will be dropped again at Paris 2024.
In the bronze medal game earlier in the day, the Dominican Republic beat South Korea, the gold medalists at 2008 Beijing Games, 10-6 to take bronze. Enditem