2020 Americas Olympics Qualifier

From BR Bullpen

The 2020 Americas Olympic Qualifier was originally slated to be held from March 22 to March 26, 2020 in Arizona. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was pushed back by over a year, and took place in Florida in May/June 2021, just prior to the 2020 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, held at the end of that month in Mexico (originally Taiwan, moved due to the pandemic).

The champion advanced to the 2020 Olympics while the 2nd- and 3rd- place finishers went to the Final Olympic Qualifier. Competing were the six American teams from the 2019 Premier 12 aside from Flag of Mexico Mexico (which finished atop the American teams in that event, winning an Olympic slot outright): Flag of United States United States, Flag of Canada Canada, Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic, Flag of Venezuela Venezuela, Flag of Cuba Cuba and Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico, as well as the two highest finishers from the 2019 Pan American Games who did not make the Premier 12 (Flag of Nicaragua Nicaragua and Flag of Colombia Colombia). The US and Cuba were former Olympic Gold Medal winners while Canada, the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and Puerto Rico had all played in the Olympics before, whereas Venezuela and Colombia had never made it yet.

The USA won the Olympic spot, while the Dominicans and Venezuelans moved on to the Final Olympic Qualifier.

See also 2021 Americas Olympic Qualifier (Rosters)

Games[edit]

May 31[edit]

June 1[edit]

In the bottom of the 4th, Puerto Rico loads the bases with one out against Gedea and Norman St. Clair but St. Clair gets out of that situation and will wind up with four hitless, shutout innings, much needed for Nicaragua. Berman Espinoza follows with two shutout innings. In the top of the 8th, Nicaragua ties it. CF Ismael Munguía singles off Christian Flecha with one out and SS Brandon Leyton walks, then Alegría doubles in a run. PH Edgard Montiel hits a two-run single to even the score. In the top of the 10th, a wild pitch by Freddie Cabrera scores Ofilio Castro and PH Juan Montes hits a sacrifice fly for insurance. In the bottom of the 10th, Jorge Bucardo relieves Espinoza. Valentín bunts the starting runners over then PH Rubén Castro grounds in one run. Sneyder Garcia relieves and walks backup 3B Nelson Molina but retires SS Ozzie Martínez to end the game.
  • Flag of Canada Canada 6, Flag of Cuba Cuba 5. Canada joins Venezuela in the semifinals from their pool, as Cuba is eliminated (and will miss the Olympics for the first time in the medal era). Canada knocks out Carlos Juan Viera in the 1st, on a single from 2B Wes Darvill, a one-out RBI double from 3B Eric Wood, an RBI single from 1B Connor Panas, a walk to SS Daniel Pinero and a two-out RBI single from C Kellin Deglan. Yariel Rodríguez relieves and will fan 11 in 6 2/3 innings. Canada loads the bags in the 2nd before Rodríguez fans Pinero. In the top of the 4th, CF Tyson Gillies, Wood and Panas all single to make it 4-0. Canadian starter Ryan Kellogg scatters five hits in 3 2/3 shutout innings before coming out of the game.
Cuba gets on the board in the bottom of the 5th against winning pitcher Dustin Molleken. CF Roel Santos doubles, 2B Yadir Mujica singles and DH Yordanis Samón hits into a run-scoring double play. Canada gets the run back when RF Michael Crouse goes deep to make it 5-1. Cuba closes the gap in the 7th when Mujica grounds in 3B Dayán García and Samón singles in Roel Santos. In the top of the 8th, Canada gets some needed insurance when DH JD Osborne coaxes a walk from Liván Moinelo and later comes home on a single from LF Jacob Robson. In the bottom of the 9th, Cuba does not go down without a fight. LF Raico Santos and Roel Santos (cousins) both single off Scott Mathieson. PH Frederich Cepeda's sacrifice fly closes it to 6-4. John Axford relieves but makes a run-scoring error to give Roel Santos his third run. The 2011 Rolaids Relief Award winner then saves it by striking out 1B Lisbán Correa.
  • Flag of United States United States 8, Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 6. The US joins Canada and Venezuela in the semifinals, with the Dominicans now facing Nicaragua the following day for the final spot, as the Americans win a slugfest. They start off with a blast; in the 1st, 3B Todd Frazier doubles off Radhamés Liz, RF Eric Filia walks and 1B Triston Casas doubles in both runners. In the top of the 2nd, the Dominicans get one run back when DH Juan Francisco smacks a homer off Joe Ryan. In the 4th, the US strikes again when 2B Eddy Alvarez (who has been an Olympian - albeit in speed skating) reaches and C Mark Kolozsvary hits a two-run home run to make it 4-1.
In the top of the 5th, CF Luis Liberato walks. SS Gustavo Núñez doubles and 2B Emilio Bonifacio triples both in; the game is now a one-run affair. In the top of the 6th, the Dominicans take their only lead. RF Julio Rodríguez singles off Edwin Jackson and 3B Diego Goris hits a two-run shot against Trevor Lane. The US comes back in the bottom of the 6th. Casas hits a one-out single off Emilio Vargas, who then plunks Alvarez and walks Kolozsvary. Jhan Maríñez takes over and Logan Forsythe hits a pinch-hit, game-tying single. SS Nick Allen hits into a run-scoring force and LF Luke Williams hits a big two-run triple for an 8-5 edge. The Dominicans aren't quite done, though, as Francisco again homers, off David Robertson, to open the 9th. Robertson recovers to get Goris, PH Yeison Asencio and Liberato to record the save.

June 2[edit]

  • Flag of Cuba Cuba 16, Flag of Colombia Colombia 3. After having won at least Silver in the five Olympics to feature baseball as a medal event, Cuba is already eliminated from the 2020 Games after their back-to-back one-run losses to Venezuela and Canada. With only their pride left at stake, they mop the floor with fellow winless Colombia, in a 7-inning mercy rule rout. Among the stars are CF Roel Santos (3 H, 2 BB), SS Yadil Mujica (3 RBI), DH Yordanis Samón (3 RBI), SS Erisbel Arruebarruena (4 H, 4 RBI), LF Raico Santos (3 H, 4 RBI), C Ivan Prieto (3 R) and Bryan Chi (1 R in 5 IP). SS Jeter Downs goes deep for Colombia while starter Daniel Castillo does not last through the 1st.

June 3[edit]

  • Flag of United States United States vs. Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico canceled by rain; the US is leading 6-1 after a 4th-inning grand slam by Nick Allen. The game will not be rescheduled as the US has already advanced while Puerto Rico will not advance, no matter the result.

June 4[edit]

June 5[edit]

The Dominicans load the bases in the 4th but Albers gets Francisco looking this time to keep it even. C Charlie Valerio homers off Dustin Molleken in the 5th to give the islanders their first lead, 4-3. After his rocky 1st inning, Valdés cruises until the 6th, when Pinero again goes yard on him, tying it at 4-4. In the top of the 8th, Jumbo Díaz relieves; with one out, Wood singles, advances on a Panas grounder and scores on a Pinero single; it is his 4th RBI and gives Canada 5-4 lead. In the bottom of the 8th, however, Liberato singles off Evan Rutckyj. Scott Mathieson relieves and Valerio bunts into a force at second. Guzmán strikes out but 2B Gustavo Núñez, the #9 hitter, singles to tie it and a throwing error on the play by CF Michael Crouse sends him to second base. Cabrera walks, John Axford relieves and Rodríguez singles in Núñez with the winner. Jairo Asencio saves it by striking out the side - C Kellin Deglan, 1B Jesse Hodges and RF Tyson Gillies.
  • Flag of United States United States 4, Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 2. The US locks up the Olympic spot, but it is not nearly as easy as some of their other games. Venezuela starts strong out of the gate, with three of the first four batters reaching. 3B Hernán Pérez singles off Matthew Liberatore, LF Alí Castillo walks and C Robinson Chirinos walks. DH Carlos Pérez hits into a double play to ruin the chances, though. In the 3rd, Pérez doesn't leave anything to his teammates, smacking one over to deep left for a 1-0 lead.
Aníbal Sánchez shuts down the US for three innings but flags in the 4th. 3B Todd Frazier singles and RF Eric Filia goes deep for a 2-1 US edge. In the bottom of the 5th, LF Luke Williams and CF Jarren Duran continue to be sparkplugs for the US, with back-to-back two-out singles to chase Sánchez. Danny Rondón relieves but Frazier greets him with a big ground-rule double. Oddanier Mosqueda then comes in and escapes further harm. Venezuela makes it a one-run game again in the 6th; with two outs, RF Diego Rincones and CF Ramón Flores hit back-to-back doubles off Brandon Dickson but it will be their last run. Mike Scioscia turns to two veterans, Edwin Jackson and David Robertson, who throw three hitless innings (one walk, one hit-by-pitch), Jackson getting the win and Robertson the save. Frazier continues his big day with a solo shot off Erick Leal in the 7th to cap the scoring.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Nick Aguilera: "Team USA qualifies for 2020 Olympics", mlb.com, June 5, 2021. [1]