Israel notched its first victory of the Tokyo Olympics baseball tournament Sunday in the opening game of the knockout rounds, exploding offensively for 12 runs to eliminate Mexico and keep its improbable hopes of an Olympic medal alive.
First baseman Danny Valencia drove in three runs — including a two-run home run in the third inning — while designated hitter Nick Rickles drove in three of his own. Israel scored five runs in the third inning and six runs in the seventh to blow the game open and escape a four-run frame for Mexico in the bottom of the third.
Mexico pitchers struggled to keep Israeli hitters off the base paths through the game, giving up all 12 runs on 12 hits and seven walks.
Israel's five-spot in the top of the third was nearly cancelled out by the Mexican offense in the bottom of the inning. Mexico pushed four runs across, then had the bases loaded with one out and a chance to take control of the game. Israeli pitcher Jake Fishman drew a flyout from Mexican DH Adrian Gonzalez, then struck out shortstop Danny Espinosa to keep Israel in the lead. Israel hung on to win 12-5.
Mexico exits the Olympic tournament have won none of its three games. The Olympic baseball tournament features a modified double-elimination knockout stage, with the exception of this game. In a matchup the bottom-finishing teams from groups A and B, the loser is not given a second chance.
Israel advances to Round 2 and will take on the winner of the Dominican Republic vs. South Korea, taking place later Sunday.