Mexico Clinches 2020 Olympics Bid, Team USA Will Have To Wait
Mexico is going to the 2020 Olympics. Team USA will have to wait until March for another shot.
Efren Navarro hit walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the 10th inning to lift Mexico to a 3-2 win over Team USA in the bronze medal game of Premier12 on Sunday.
With the win, Mexico clinched a berth to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as the highest finishing team from the Americas at Premier12. Team USA will have another chance to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Games at an Americas qualifier in Arizona in March.
Team USA was three outs away from securing the win and clinching the Olympic bid, but Matt Clark led off the bottom of ninth inning with a solo home run for Mexico to tie the score 2-2 and send it to extra innings.
With the international tiebreaker rule in effect placing runners on first and second base to start each inning, Bobby Dalbec led off the top of the 10th with a sacrifice bunt and Drew Waters was intentionally walked to load the bases with one out for Team USA. But Alec Bohm struck out swinging and Jake Cronenworth flied out to leave the bases loaded.
A sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Jones and an intentional walk to Esteban Quiroz loaded the bases for Mexico with one out in the bottom of the 10th, and Navarro finished an eight-pitch at-bat against Caleb Thielbar with a broken-bat flare into center field to bring home Noah Perio with the winning run.
It is Mexico’s first time reaching the Olympics in baseball.
Mexico kept fighting back to make it happen. Needing only one more win in the Super Round to clinch an Olympic berth, Mexico instead lost its final two games and fell into a winner-take-all matchup against Team USA.
Team USA re-took the lead in the seventh on an RBI single by Bobby Dalbec and entered the ninth up 2-1. That’s when Clark—a California native and former major leaguer now playing in the Mexican League—led off the ninth against Brandon Dickson with a home run to center field to tie it once again.
Mexico joins Japan, South Korea and Israel in the 2020 Olympics field. Team USA is left to vie for one of just two available spots remaining in the six-team field.
Team USA will be part of an eight-team Americas qualifier in March with Cuba, Canada, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Colombia and Nicaragua. The winner of that qualifier will earn an Olympic bid.
If Team USA fails to qualify there, it could get a third chance. The second and third-place finishers at the Americas qualifier will qualify for a final, six-team global qualifier in Taiwan. The winner of that qualifier will earn the final Olympic berth.
Team USA finished Premier12 in fourth place after going 4-4 in the tournament. They went 2-1 in group play, including an 8-2 loss to Mexico, and 2-2 in the Super Round before falling in the bronze medal game.
Expected to be a strength, Team USA’s offense scored just 32 runs in its eight games, an average of four runs per game.
Nineteen of those runs came in Team USA’s opening-round wins against the Netherlands (9-0) and the Dominican Republic (10-2). Against teams who advanced past the opening round, Team USA managed just 13 runs in six games.