Image credit: Jake Cronenworth (Alfredo Moya/Getty Images)
The United States is moving on to the next round of Olympic qualifying.
Team USA concluded group play with a 2-1 record at Premier12, the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Olympics. They will join Mexico in the Super Round in Japan as the top two finishers from Group A.
Team USA jumped on the Dominicans early in the winner-take-all game. Payton hit a leadoff home run in the first inning, Cronenworth homered in the second, Bohm homered in the third and Kratz homered in the fourth to help Team USA race out to a 9-3 lead.
The Dominicans rallied for four runs in the bottom of the fifth, capped by Charlie Valerio’s three-run homer, to cut the score to 9-7, but the back of Team USA’s bullpen held the line.
Wyatt Mills pitched two scoreless innings and Noah Song struck out the side in the eighth to halt the Dominican rally. Closer Brandon Dickson entered the ninth with a 10-7 lead and allowed a two-out RBI single to Alfredo Marte, but he struck out Carlos Peguero as the tying run at the plate to finish off the victory.
Team USA will open the Super Round on Nov. 11 in Tokyo. The rest of the field, aside from Mexico, is to be determined pending the results of Groups B and C.
The top finisher from the Americas at Premier12 earns an automatic berth to the 2020 Olympics.
The Dominican Republic will have another chance to qualify for the Olympics at the Americas qualifier in March 2020.