Baseball

Yamada's 4 RBIs help Japan beat Mexico to advance to quarter-finals in Olympic baseball

Former Central League MVP Tetsuto Yamada had four RBIs and broke open the game with a three-run homer, Hayato Sakamoto went deep off former big league pitcher Manny Banuelos and Japan beat Mexico 7-4 Saturday to win Group A at the Olympics.

Mexicans to face Israel in elimination game on Sunday

Japan's Masataka Yoshida, right, is all smiles after he scores during Japan's win over Mwxico at the Tokyo Olympics on Saturday in Japan. (Kazuhiro Fujihara/Getty Images)

Former Central League MVP Tetsuto Yamada had four RBIs and broke open the game with a three-run homer, Hayato Sakamoto went deep off former big league pitcher Manny Banuelos and Japan beat Mexico 7-4 Saturday to win Group A at the Olympics.

Masato Morishita (2-0), a 23-year-old right-hander who is reigning Central League Rookie of the Year, allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. Rookie Ryoji Kuribayashi, who has 18 saves and a 0.53 ERA for Hiroshima in the Central League this season, got three straight outs for the save.

Joey Meneses, a 29-year-old in Double-A with Boston and the 2018 International League MVP, had three RBIs for Mexico, including a two-run homer in the eighth off Kaima Taira.

By rallying with three runs against the Dominican Republic in the ninth inning of its opener and finishing first in its three-nation group, Japan (2-0) gets Sunday off and plays Monday against the United States or South Korea (both 1-0), who meet Saturday night. Mexico faces an elimination game on Sunday against Israel (both 0-2).

Mexico starter Juan Oramas (0-1) allowed two runs and four hits in three innings.

Morishita, who pauses his windup with his left leg bent at a 90-degree ankle and only then finishes his delivery, gave up an RBI single in the first to Meneses.

Takuya Kai, the 2019 Japan Series MVP, hit a tying single in the second, and Hideto Asamura chopped a run-scoring comebacker in the third for a 2-1 lead.

Yamada, the 2015 Central League MVP and a six-time All-Star, turned on a fastball at the letters in the fourth from Arizona minor leaguer Edgar Arredondo for a 5-1 lead.

Mexico had runners at the corners with no outs in the bottom half. Adrian Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star whose last big league season was 2018, brought in a run when he grounded into his second double play to go along with two strikeouts.

Samamoto homered in the seventh off Banuelos, who had a 6.31 ERA in a big league career than ended in 2019. Yamada added an RBI single in the eighth.

Oliver Perez, a 40-year-old left-hander released by Cleveland in May, pitched got two outs in the ninth and did his familiar leap over the foul line.

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