Eric Filia makes the catch for an out in the second inning against Venezuela during the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualifier Super Round at Clover Park on June 05, 2021 in Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Baseball is back in the Olympics, and now Team USA will be taking part.
The U.S. beat Venezuela 4-2 on Saturday to win the WBSC Baseball Americas Qualification Event and claim one of the six coveted spots in this summer’s Olympic baseball tournament.
The sport, which had been part of the Olympics from 1992 until 2008, partnered with softball in its successful bid to return for the Tokyo Games. The U.S. joins host Japan as well as Israel, Mexico and South Korea in having qualified.
Without access to players on MLB 40-man rosters, a U.S. team featuring a mix of major league veterans, prospects and some in between went undefeated through this week’s tournament, which took place at multiple sites in Florida.
Ranked No. 2 in the world, Team USA beat No. 15 Nicaragua 7-1 and No. 10 the Dominican Republic 8-6 to open pool play before taking a 6-1 lead over No. 11 Puerto Rico on Thursday. However, that game was suspended due to weather, and because the U.S. and Dominican Republic had already clinched spots in the Super Round the game was ultimately called off.
The Super Round was another round-robin including Group B winners No. 8 Venezuela and No. 13 Canada. The U.S. win over the Dominican Republic carried over.
Team USA made easy work of Canada on Friday night, winning 10-1 with help from left fielder Luke Williams’ three-RBI, two-run game. With Venezuela falling 14-4 to the Dominican Republic in the other game, the U.S. came into the finale needing a win to clinch the spot, and despite giving up an early lead did just that. Third baseman Todd Frazier went 4-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs against Venezuela, while starting pitcher Matthew Liberatore struck out four while giving up one earned run in 4.2 innings.
While a roster for Tokyo has yet to be determined, it could look a lot like the one this week.
Led by former Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, the U.S. team of 26 included four former MLB All-Stars (Frazier, outfielder Matt Kemp and pitchers Edwin Jackson and David Robertson) and four former World Series winners (Jackson, Robertson, pitcher Marc Rzepczynski and outfielder Jon Jay).
In addition, four U.S. players were among MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects, led by Liberatore at No. 30.
Also on the team was Eddy Alvarez, a 2014 Olympic silver medalist as a short track speedskater who is now an infield prospect for the Miami Marlins.
The U.S. has won three medals in Olympic baseball, including the gold medal in 2000. Although the sport will not be contested at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, there is a chance it could return in 2028 in Los Angeles.