Team USA To Face Mexico For Olympic Berth
Only 24 hours ago, Team USA’s hopes of qualifying for the 2020 Olympics were hanging by a thread.
Now, Team USA just has to win one more game.
Team USA will face Mexico in the Premier12 bronze medal game tonight. The winner will clinch a berth to the 2020 Tokyo Games as the highest finishing team from the Americas at Premier12, one of four Olympic qualifying tournaments.
Team USA survived a tense end to the Super Round in order to set up the matchup. In order to reach the bronze medal game, Team USA had to beat Taiwan, have Mexico lose to South Korea and then have Taiwan beat Australia in the round’s final two days.
Team USA took care of the first part by beating Taiwan 3-2 on a dramatic, go-ahead two-run home run by Brent Rooker in the seventh inning for a comeback win. South Korea used a seven-run fifth inning to beat Mexico 7-2, leaving Team USA’s fate resting on the outcome of Friday’s matchup between Taiwan and Australia.
An Australia win would have put them in the bronze medal game against Mexico and eliminated Team USA. Instead, Taiwan scored four runs in the eighth—capped by a three-run homer from Che-Hsuan Lin—to pick up a 5-1 win and elevate Team USA into the bronze-medal game.
Mexico beat Team USA 8-2 in group play and started 3-0 in the Super Round to move within one win of clinching an Olympic berth. Instead, Mexico dropped its final two games to set up a rematch with Team USA.
The winner will secure a bid to the 2020 Olympics, but the loser’s Olympic dreams will not be over. The loser of Mexico-USA will have another chance to qualify for the 2020 Games at the Americas qualifier in Arizona next March. And, if needed, yet another chance after that at a last-chance qualifier in Taiwan.
South Korea will face Japan in the Premier12 gold medal game Sunday. Both teams have already clinched a bid to the 2020 Olympics—Japan an automatic bid as the host nation, South Korea as Premier12’s highest finisher from Asia/Oceania excluding Japan.