The United States beat South Korea in the gold-medal game, as Eddy Alvarez clinches a winter-summer medal double.
YOKOHAMA, JAPAN (Kyodo News) — Even though his greatest game is still ahead of him, Eddy Alvarez sat in the United States dugout after the last out, burying his face in his hands and crying.
On Thursday night, a 7-2 win against reigning champion South Korea set up a gold-medal showdown against Japan, ensuring that the 31-year-old speedskater-turned-second baseman would become just the third American to win medals in both the Winter and Summer Olympics.
“I became upset because there was so much sacrifice,” Alvarez said. “I still can’t believe what I’m seeing. I know the work isn’t done yet because, at the end of the day, winning a gold medal is one of the sole reasons I came out here.”
Jack Lopez, Nick Martinez, Edwin Jackson, and Anthony Carter slapped Alvarez on the back and gave him handshakes and embraces while he wept.
Alvarez will receive at least a silver in baseball after winning silver as part of the US four-man short track team in Sochi in 2014. Eddie Eagan (boxing in 1920, bobsled in 1932) and Lauryn Williams (boxing in 1920, bobsled in 1932) are the other Americans with summer and winter medals (track and field in 2004 and 2012, bobsled in 2014).
In this series, Alvarez is hitting.350 with three RBIs. His 5,000-meter relay team finished 0.271 seconds behind Russia in Sochi, but three of the four gold medalists were barred from the 2018 Winter Games due to doping allegations.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I do believe I’ve been duped. “I’m sure there was some suspicion there,” Alvarez added. “Obviously, I can’t talk about it too much since they still have the gold medal, but I know they worked hard.” I’ve seen them develop over time and can attest to how much they’ve progressed.
“But, yes, this seems like a small redemption trip here, giving me a chance to win gold a second time.”
The American squad of prospects and released veterans advanced to 4-1 and will face Japan (5-0) on Saturday night, with Martinez (1-0) receiving the start at a stadium he knows from his time pitching for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks.
Lopez knocked in his first two runs of the Olympics with RBI singles, Jamie Westbrook hit a solo home run, and Tyler Austin delivered a two-run single as the United States established a 7-1 lead with a five-run sixth inning against South Korea. Runs were also driven in by Alvarez and Mark Kolozsvary.
Alvarez lifted his right arm in joy after the last out, a line drive caught by Carter, then raised both arms and embraced shortstop Nick Allen.
“It’s very great to be around him and learn how to connect with people from different places,” Westbrook added.
Teammates who have been in baseball for a long time look to Alvarez for Olympic guidance.
“Just giving us small pointers, techniques around the town, just around the pressure circumstances,” said American starter Joe Ryan. “It’s a privilege to collaborate with him.”
Alvarez, a 31-year-old infielder with the Miami Jumbo Shrimp of Triple-A, made his big league debut last season when the Marlins’ roster was ravaged by coronavirus, hitting.189 with 0 RBIs in 12 games.
Third baseman Todd Frazier remarked, “Not many people get second chances in the Olympics, so let’s do it for him.” “I’d definitely play with him no matter what.”
Eddy Alvarez (left), a 2014 Olympic speedskating medallist, will join Eddie Eagan and Lauryn Williams as the only Americans to earn Olympic medals at both the Summer and Winter Games after the United States defeated South Korea. Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press
Ryan, a 25-year-old right-hander acquired by the Minnesota Twins in the Nelson Cruz-to-Tampa Bay Rays deal last month, departed with a 2-1 lead after allowing four hits in 413 innings.
Ryder Ryan (1-0), a 26-year-old right-hander from Texas’ Triple-A Round Rock, threw 123 hitless innings to give the Americans their second win against South Korea after a 4-2 triumph in the opening round.
Lopez, a 28-year-old shortstop who was promoted to Triple-A Worcester by the Boston Red Sox in May, had his first hit in eight Olympic at-bats with a two-out RBI single in the second inning. Lopez is the nephew of Onix Concepcion, a former major league shortstop.
In the fourth inning, Westbrook homered approximately 20 rows into the left-field bleachers for a 2-0 advantage.
Park Hae-RBI min’s single in the fifth inning drove home a run for South Korea (3-3), which will play Dominican Republic (2-3) for the bronze.
Ryder Ryan just needed two pitches to get out of a two-on situation, grounding into an inning-ending double play.
In the sixth inning, American batters batted around against four relievers. Kolozsvary and Lopez both had RBI singles, and Alvarez’s RBI grounder made it 5-1. Austin then followed with a two-run single at his home stadium of the Central League’s Yokohama DeNA BayStars, giving him seven RBIs in the tournament.
Scott McGough gave up an RBI double to Oh Ji-hwan in the seventh inning. With two on and two out, Anthony Gose replaced and earned a couple of called third strikes before pitching a hitless eighth. Carter came in ninth place with a flawless score.
The relievers from the United States will get a day off to prepare for the gold-medal game.
“The basic line is that our shirt reads USA, and these players are competing for a gold medal this weekend,” said US manager Mike Scioscia. “It doesn’t get much better than that,” says the narrator.
Japan is the favorite, having suspended its major league season to make top players available for the Olympics. In the double-elimination second round, it beat the United States 7-6 in 10 innings on Monday.
“I’m simply going to take advantage of this opportunity. I’m looking forward to it. I’m going to contact my wife and parents, who are just as deserving of this as I am “Alvarez said. “Then we’ll go on to Saturday, and I’ll do some celebrating afterwards,” she says.