The United States punched their ticket to the Olympics in Japan later this summer by defeating Venezuela 4-2 on Saturday to ensure that they will be in Japan.
The US played a qualifying tournament in SE Florida this week and went 4-0, defeating the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Canada, and Venezuela.
Todd Frazier had four hits in four at-bats, including a homer and two RBI’s, to help the US clinch the Olympic berth.
Frazier talked about the importance of winning the game:
When you get an opportunity to play for the United States of America, you’ve got to take that opportunity and run with it, Because you’re probably going to look back on your career and say that’s the most fun I’ve ever had playing the game.
Former Angels manager Mike Scioscia is the manager of the US team, which features a mix of MLB veterans and some up and coming prospects.
Scioscia was excited to get the win and is looking forward to representing the US in Tokyo:
This whole process over the last couple of weeks has been so intense. You’re really playing elimination games every day, and our guys rose to the occasion. But bigger than that, it was such a celebration of baseball, so I want to congratulate both teams. We had tough games every time out. You had to be ready to play every game, and fortunately, our guys played well.
The US will face a tough challenge in trying to win the gold medal. MLB does not allow its stars to participate in the Olympics like the NBA and the NHL. MLB also discourages teams from letting their top prospects participate in the Olympics.
Japan and Korea will shut down their professional leagues for two weeks to ensure their best players can participate. Japan is the favorite to win the gold medal.
The United States has won Gold once since the Olympics recognized baseball as an Olympic sport in 1992. The United States won Gold in 2002 and has struggled some years to even be in the medal round.
The last time baseball was an Olympic sport was in 2008 when South Korea won the Gold, and the US took home the bronze medal.
This year’s squad is led by Todd Frazier, who was cut by Pittsburgh earlier this year after a 3 for 35 slump.
Along with Frazier, Team USA will count on Matt Kemp and Logan Forsythe to lead the team offensively.
Edwin Jackson, Matt Liberatore, and Homer Bailey are names familiar to baseball fans who will be part of Team USA’s pitching staff.
There are three former Tampa Bay Rays and one current minor league player on the roster. Pitchers Matt Liberatore and Daniel Robertson, infielder Logan Forsythe, and present AAA Durham pitcher Joe Ryan.
The United States will join Japan, Korea, Mexico, and Israel as part of the six-team field in Tokyo.
The baseball tournament at the Olympics will begin on July 28th.