YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Team USA (4-1) and Japan (4-0) will go head-to-head in the gold medal game of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Saturday evening at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. The first pitch is set for 7 p.m. JST/6 a.m. EDT/3 a.m. PDT on NBC Sports Network. Nick Martinez (1-0) will get the ball for the stars and stripes.
This is the U.S.’s first appearance in an Olympic Games gold medal game since September 27, 2000, when Ben Sheets pitched a complete-game shutout to defeat the two-time defending champions, Cuba, 4-0 in the finale. It was the second Olympic gold medal in USA Baseball history after also winning the baseball tournament in the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games when it was still a demonstration sport.
Japan and the U.S. have a history in the Olympic finale, having faced each other in the Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games with a gold medal on the line. Japan defeated Team USA 6-3 to claim gold in 1984, but the U.S. won gold in 1988 with a 5-3 victory.
Since baseball became an official sport on the Olympic Programme, the U.S. and Japan have faced each other two times in a medal-round game in the Olympics, splitting the two matchups. Japan defeated Team USA 8-3 in the bronze medal game of the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games, and Team USA won the bronze in Beijing 2008, beating Japan 8-4.
Martinez will get the start for the red, white, and blue after setting the tone for the U.S. pitching staff on a record-tying night against Korea in the opening round. He struck out nine batters in 5.0 innings, giving up four hits and one run, as the Team USA pitchers combined to strike out 14 batters–the most in an Olympic Games since July 28, 1992, against Italy.
Japan will turn to Masato Morishita and face a lineup featuring Tyler Austin and Triston Casas, who lead the tournament in slugging percentage (.857) and home runs (3), respectively. Austin has gotten a hit in all five games of the Olympic baseball tournament playing in his home stadium and Casas has also reached base safely in all five contests, tallying hits in four games.
Saturday’s game will serve as a rematch of the quarterfinals in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games when Japan walked off the U.S., 7-6, in an extra-inning matchup. Team USA trailed 2-0 but eventually took a 6-3 lead on a Casas three-run, opposite-field home run. The stars and stripes’ bullpen struggled in the loss, allowing Japan to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth to force extras.
Regardless of the outcome, the U.S. will win its sixth Olympic medal for baseball, and its fourth as an official sport on the Olympic Programme.
Gold: 1988*, 2000
Bronze: 1996, 2008
Additionally, with Team USA securing an Olympic medal in 2020, Eddy Alvarez will become just the sixth athlete all-time to win an Olympic medal in both the Summer and Winter Games. He will be the third American athlete to do so, following Eddie Egan (1920, 1932) and Lauryn Williams (2004, 2012, 2014).
The game will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network. Fans and media are encouraged to visit USABaseball.com and follow @USABaseball on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) for the most up-to-date information for the team, including daily game notes, recaps, live scoring, and behind-the-scenes content.
Followers are encouraged to use the official hashtag of USA Baseball, #ForGlory🇺🇸, during the event.