Japan defeats Australia on Diamond Softball in Tokyo Olympics first – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth
Fifty-six hours before the Olympic flame was lit during the opening ceremony and 183 miles north, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics officially began with a dropball from the pitching circle at Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium.
It was fitting that one of the greatest Olympians in Japanese history, the 2008 Beijing gold medalist softball pitcher Ueno Yukiko, gave the opening speech for his country’s Olympic Games on Tuesday evening. They went on to claim their eighth Olympic victory as Japan beat Australia in five sets, 8-1, in a first-round match to give a strong start to the delayed Japan defense for the gold medal. .
Ueno got around a few problems in the first set, charging the goals with a strikeout and conceding the first point to Australia on a blow-by-blow basis, but escaping without further damage. Japan immediately equalized at the bottom of the first on a Yamamoto yu RBI simple, then the hosts took the start with the long ball.
Naito Minori put Japan in the lead in the bottom of the third with a two-point run through center and Fujita Yamato followed an inning later with a mammoth two-point shot in the Australian reliever box. Then, in the bottom of the fifth, Yamamoto threw Japan’s third home run to give the host nation a seven-point lead with less than two innings to go. Usually that ended the game.
Ueno and emergency launcher Go to Miu limited Australia to just two hits in five innings.
The game was also important for his venue. Fukushima Azuma Baseball Stadium (converted to softball dimensions for the first week of the Games) is located in Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. Host the first event of the Olympics there, even in the absence of fans, was meant to commemorate the region’s past decade’s recovery efforts.
Unlike the previous Olympics, the Tokyo softball tournament is played in just two rounds, a round robin and medal games. Australia and Japan will face the tournament’s four remaining teams – Mexico, Italy, Canada and the United States – in the coming days.