YOKOHAMA, Japan — Heritage grad Tyler Austin went 3-for-5 with three extra-base hits and three RBIs, and the U.S. pitching staff struck out nine batters in an 8-1 victory over Israel in its Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 opener at Yokohama Baseball Stadium.
The win moves Team USA (1-0) into a tie with South Korea (1-0) for first place in Group B. The two countries will meet Saturday, July 31, to determine the Group B winner. The first pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. JST/6 a.m. EDT.
After exchanging base runners in the opening two frames, Nick Allen kick-started the U.S. offense in the top of the third inning, turning over the lineup with a one-out single into right and stealing second base to put a runner in scoring position. With two outs, Eddy Alvarez stepped up and brought in the first run of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with an RBI-double perfectly placed down the left-field line. Tyler Johnson then followed with an absolute rocket over the centerfield fence for a two-run shot to put the U.S. ahead 3-0.
After Israel scratched a run across the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning on a solo home run, the stars and stripes padded their lead by scoring runs in each of the final four innings of the game. Todd Frazier started the offense in the sixth inning thanks to an error, and a two-out, four-pitch walk to Mark Kolozsvary put runners on first and second for Bubba Starling. Starling followed with an RBI-single on a bloop hit over the outstretched hands of the shortstop in shallow left to score Frazier from second and regain the U.S. three-run lead.
Another error proved costly for Israel after Jamie Westbrook ended up on second base to lead off the seventh courtesy of a dropped fly ball in the outfield and Team USA followed with back-to-back doubles from Alvarez and Austin to push ahead 6-1. Eric Filia led off the eighth inning with a single and advanced to third base on a stolen base and a groundout. He then sped home on an RBI-groundout by Starling, and the U.S. capped its scoring in the ninth thanks to a two-out double for Austin and an RBI-single through the right side by Triston Casas.
The eight runs scored by the stars and stripes were the most scored in an Olympic opening in USA Baseball history, and more than enough for the pitching staff on Friday night.
U.S. starter Joe Ryan (1-0) was strong on the mound, striking out five Israel batters and picking up the victory in his Olympic debut. Over his six innings of work, he struck out the side in the bottom of the second and cruised through a four-pitch bottom of the fifth. Brandon Dickson, Anthony Carter, and Ryder Ryan combined in relief to toss the final three innings, striking out four batters and allowing just two hits.
Israel starter Joey Wagman (0-1) suffered the loss.
Austin, who plays professionally in Yokohama, Japan, paced the offense in his home stadium with a home run and two doubles. Alvarez (2-for-5) also tallied two doubles on the night and he and Starling (1-for-3) each contributed a pair of RBIs in the win. Filia (2-for-4) was the third U.S. player with multiple hits on the night.
Team USA will turn to Nick Martinez on the mound in its matchup against South Korea.