Minnesota’s Brent Rooker hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning, and the United States beat Taiwan 3-2 on Friday in Tokyo to keep alive the Americans’ chance of earning an Olympic baseball berth at the Premier12 tournament.
The U.S. finished the super round 2-3 and would clinch a berth if it beats Mexico (3-2) on Sunday in the Premier12 bronze-medal game. Mexico lost 7-3 Saturday to South Korea (3-1), which clinched an Olympic berth and plays Japan for the Premier12 gold medal. Taiwan (2-3) defeated Australia (1-4) by 5-1, putting the Americans in position to qualify with a win over Mexico.
The top finisher from the Americas qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics next year. The second-place finisher from the Americas goes to another qualifying tournament in March or April.
Host Japan and Israel already had earned berths in the six-nation Olympic tournament.
Taiwan led 2-1 before Rooker’s drive off starter Sheng-Feng Wu.
Andrew Vaughn of the Chicago White Sox hit an RBI single in the first, but Taiwan took a 2-1 lead when Jin-De Hang hit a run-scoring double play grounder in the third off Oakland’s Parker Dunshee, and Chin-Lung Hu homered in the sixth against former Kansas City pitcher Brian Flynn, who spent much of this year at Triple-A Omaha.
Tampa Bay’s Spencer Jones, Boston’s Noah Song and St. Louis’ Brandon Dickson each pitched a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Jones got the win and Dickson a save.
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