Mexico rallies to beat US 3-2, earn Olympic baseball berth

Matt Clark hit a tying home run off former St. Louis pitcher Brandon Dickson leading off the bottom of the ninth inning, Efren Navarro had a broken-bat single against Caleb Thielbar to drive in the winning run in the 10th and Mexico beat the United States 3-2 Sunday at the Tokyo Dome to qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time.

Mexico joined host Japan, South Korea and Israel in the six-nation field for next summer’s Tokyo Games and earned the bronze medal in the Premier12 tournament, which served as qualifying. The United States will play next spring in the Americas tournament, which determines one of the two remaining Olympic berths.

Jo Adell, the 10th overall pick by the Los Angeles Angels in the 2017 amateur draft, homered in the first against Tampa Bay’s Arturo Reyes. Milwaukee’s Cody Ponce, the U.S. starter, allowed three hits in five scoreless innings with six strikeouts and a walk.

Clark, who played 16 games for Milwaukee in 2014, tied it in the sixth with a bases-loaded, two-out single off Kansas City prospect Daniel Tillo. Clark had missed part of the tournament with an Achilles tendon injury and limped at times.

Boston’s Bobby Dalbec ended a 0-for-10 slide with an RBI single in the seventh off Jesus Rios for a 2-1 lead.

Under tournament rules, extra innings start with runners on first and second.

Dalbec sacrificed leading off the 10th and Atlanta’s Drew Walters was intentionally walked. Winner Carlos Bustamante struck out Philadelphia’s Alec Bohm, then retired Tampa Bay’s Jake Cronenworth on a flyout.

Jon Jones sacrificed on a 1-2 pitch leading off the bottom half against Dickson, who pitched for the Cardinals in 2011 and ‘12. Esteban Quiroz was intentionally walked and U.S. manager Scott Brosius brought in Thielbar, a left-hander who finished the season in Atlanta’s minor league system and became a free agent, to face the left-handed-hitting Navarro, a 33-year-old whose last major league experience was four games for the Chicago Cubs in 2018. Navarro singled to center.

The Mexicans are managed by Juan Castro. He will be an infield coach next season for Philadelphia manager Joe Girardi, who was to manage the U.S. team but quit to take the Phillies job.

Mexico had beaten the U.S. 8-2 in the group stage on Nov. 3 at Guadalajara, Mexico. The U.S. got in position to play for a berth only because South Korea defeated Mexico 7-3 and Taiwan defeated Australia 5-1 in the super round.

Japan beat South Korea 5-3 later Sunday for the Premier12 gold medal.