Tokyo Olympics baseball in review: The diamond's dramatic return

Japan and the USA line up the national anthems before the baseball gold medal game.
Japan and the USA line up the national anthems before the baseball gold medal game.

Baseball made the most of its brief reprieve from Olympic exile.

The medalists were all traditional baseball-loving nations. The Dominican Republic took bronze, while Japan won a pitcher's duel with the United States for gold.

But all six teams were competitive, including a team from Israel composed of U.S. collegians, independent leaguers and a handful of players who are or have been in the U.S. professional system.

To underscore the point, several games went down to the last at-bat on the turf field baseball shared with softball.

The sport also made a bit of history, with former short-track speedskater Eddy Alvarez becoming the third American and sixth person overall to win a medal in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.

SEE MORE: Japan fulfills baseball destiny in gold medal win over USA

USA: Prospects and journeymen

Under the guidance of veteran major league manager Mike Scioscia, the U.S. team featured a handful of former major leaguers such as Edwin Jackson and Brandon Dickson, who won the World Series with St. Louis in 2011. 

A couple of players based in Japan made good cases for U.S. teams to give them another look. Tyler Austin, the leading hitter in Japan's Central League as of early July, hit .417 in the tournament with seven RBI. Nick Martinez, who had 4.77 ERA in four major league seasons from 2014 to 2017 and currently has a 2.03 ERA in Japan, was the hard-luck loser with no run support in the final and struck out 16 in 11 innings of work.

One prospect who should make Red Sox fans happy is Triston Casas, the club's top pick in the 2018 draft. His batting average of .217 was offset by the power he showed with three home runs and eight RBI.

SEE MORE: Which MLB free agents impressed in Tokyo?

Scores

POOL PLAY

BOX SCORES

Pool A
Japan 4, Dominican Republic 3
Dominican Republic 1, Mexico 0
Japan 7, Mexico 4

Pool B
South Korea 6, Israel 5
United States 8, Israel 1
United States 4, South Korea 2

PLAYOFFS

BOX SCORES

Israel 12, Mexico 5 (Mexico eliminated)
South Korea 4, Dominican Republic 3
South Korea 11, Israel 1
Japan 7, United States 6
Dominican Republic 7, Israel 6 (Israel eliminated)
United States 3, Dominican Republic 1 (Dominican Republic to bronze medal game)
Japan 5, South Korea 2 (Japan to gold medal game)
United States 7, South Korea 2

Bronze medal game: Dominican Republic 10, South Korea 6

Gold medal game: Japan 2, United States 0

SEE MORE: Dominicans turn back South Korea for country's first Olympic baseball medal