Efren Navarro has helped his country make Olympichistory…
The 33-year-oldMexican-American professional baseball first baseman and left fielder hit a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar on Sunday to drive in the winning run in the 10thinning and give Mexico a 3-2 win over the United States at the Tokyo Dome, allowing Mexico to qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time.
Prior to Navarro’s single,,Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis Cardinals pitcherBrandon Dicksonleading off the bottom of the ninth inning.
Mexico joined host Japan, South Korea and Israel in the six-nation field for next summer’s 2020 Tokyo Games and earned the bronze medal in the Premier12 tournament, which served as qualifying.
The United States will play next spring in the Americas tournament, which determines one of the two remaining Olympic berths.
Jo Adell, the 10th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2017 amateur draft, homered in the first against Tampa‘s Arturo Reyes. Milwaukee‘s Cody Ponce, the U.S. starter, allowed three hits in five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and a walk.
Clark, who played 16 games for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2014, tied it in the sixth with a bases-loaded, two-out single off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Tillo. Clark had missed part of the tournament with an Achilles tendon injury and limped at times. The Boston Red Sox‘s Bobby Dalbec ended a 0-for-10 slide with an RBI single in the seventh off Jesus Riosfor a 2-1 lead.
Under tournament rules, extra innings start with runners on first and second.
Dalbec sacrificed leading off the 10th and the Atlanta Braves‘Drew Walters was intentionally walked. Winner Carlos Bustamante struck out Philadelphia‘s Alec Bohm, then retired Tampa Bay’s Jake Cronenworthon a flyout.
Jon Jonessacrificed on a 1-2 pitch leading off the bottom half against Dickson, who pitched for the Cardinals in 2011 and ’12. Esteban Quiroz was intentionally walked and U.S. manager Scott Brosiusbrought in Thielbar, a left-hander who finished the season in Atlanta’s minor league system and became a free agent, to face the left-handed-hitting Navarro, whose last major league experience was four games for the Chicago Cubs in 2018. Navarro singled to center.
The Mexicans are managed by Juan Castro. He’ll be an infield coach next season for Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi, who was to manage the U.S. team but quit to take the Phillies job.
Mexico had beaten the U.S. 8-2 in the group stage on November 3 at Guadalajara, Mexico. The U.S. got in position to play for a berth only because South Korea defeated Mexico 7-3 and Taiwan defeated Australia 5-1 in the super round.
Japan beat South Korea 5-3 later Sunday for the Premier12 gold medal.