Nick Martínez stepped onto the mound, and it felt like an old familiar place.
Because it was.
“Felt comfortable the whole game,” he said after striking out nine over five innings and pitching the United States over South Korea, 4-2, for a 2-0 record at the Olympics in baseball.
Red Sox prospect Triston Casas hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the fourth off side-arming righthander Ko Youngpyo (0-1), and Nick Allen went deep with a solo shot in the fifth.
A righthander who turns 31 on Thursday, Martínez (1-0) allowed one run and four hits.
He was 17-30 for Texas from 2014-17 and signed with the Pacific League’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters after the Rangers demoted him to Triple A 13 times. He switched to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks this season and is 7-2 with a 2.03 ERA.
While Major League Baseball refused to allow 40-man roster players at the Olympics and many teams blocked top prospects from participating, Nippon Professional Baseball stopped its season, as did the Korean league (KPO).
“I’m familiar with Asian-style baseball,” Martínez said. “I’ve been fortunate to watch a little bit of the KBO during quarantine last year, so I was able to see some of these guys play and get some information on them. And playing at this field definitely helps.”
Scott McGough, Edwin Jackson, Anthony Gose and David Robertson finished a five-hitter for the Americans, who struck out 14.
BMX rider Connor Fields out of critical care
American BMX racer Connor Fields has been moved out of critical care unit at St. Luke’s International hospital a day after suffering a brain hemorrhage during a horrific qualifying crash at the Tokyo Olympics.
Fields was injured during his third qualifying run when he slammed into the first turn and was hit by two other riders. The 28-year-old from Las Vegas was taken by stretcher to an ambulance.
USA Cycling says Fields spent the night in the ICU and doctors reported no additional bleeding or injuries.
USA Cycling staff have been in contact with his family to navigate his care options. Fields will remain in the hospital until cleared.
American Hannah Roberts second in BMX freestyle debut
BMX freestyle put on quite a show in its Olympic debut.
With fans watching from a bridge outside the park, Charlotte Worthington of Britain won the inaugural women’s event and Logan Martin of Australia capped a high-flying Sunday with gold.
Worthington, who crashed on her opening run, got it started by landing the first 360 backflip in women’s competition to knock off American Hannah Roberts. The 25-year-old added a front flip on her opening run and closed with a spinning flare for a 97.5.
Roberts, a three-time world champion at age 19, set the bar in her opening run, landing a backflip with a tailspin for a 96.1. The top seed had a chance to top the Brit, but she landed hard off an early jump and waved off the rest of her second run.
Nikita Ducarroz of Switzerland took bronze with an 89.2 in her second run.
Martin kept the attention of fans on the bridge and the handful of people inside Ariake Urban Sports Park, pulling off a near flawless first run for a 93.3. The 27-year-old watched as the other eight riders tried to catch him and pumped his fist from atop a landing when no one could.
Martin went on a victory lap, flipping his bike in the air and catching it on an early jump, but waved the rest of it off after landing hard on another jump.
Daniel Dhers of Venezuela took silver with a 92.05 on his second run and Declan Brooks of Britain had a second-run 90.8 to earn bronze.
The first BMX freestyle championships were held in 2017 — won by Roberts and Martin — and the sport was added to the Olympic program later that year with surfing, sport climbing, 3-on-3 basketball, skateboarding and karate.
Worthington, who crashed in her first run, pulled off the backflip 360 first, added a front flip and closed with another backflip to pass Roberts.
Roberts had one last chance to top the Brit, but she landed hard on an early jump and waved off the rest of her second run.
Spain, Brazil advance in men’s soccer
Mikel Oyarzabal helped Spain into a second semifinal in a month. Brazil remains on track for a quick return to another final.
With youthful squads, Olympic men’s soccer lacks the status of the European Championship or Copa America. The Tokyo Games still offer the chance for the countries to collect trophies this year.
The Spanish were taken by Ivory Coast to extra time before winning, 5-2 with Rafa Mir scoring a hat trick and the go-ahead goal from a penalty by Oyarzabal, who also netted the winning spotkick in a shootout in the Euro 2020 quarterfinals. The continental semifinal was lost to Italy. Now a more youthful Spain squad will be hoping to find a way past Japan, which was taken to penalties by New Zealand before winning the shootout, 4-2.
The gold medalist on home soil in 2016, Brazil continued its title defense with a 1-0 victory over Egypt secured by Matheus Cunha’s low strike in the 37th minute in Saitama.
The goal was set up by Richarlison, who has been allowed by Premier League club Everton to do double duty in the offseason, having already been in the side that lost to Argentina in the Copa America final three weeks ago.
Egypt wasn’t allowed to bring players from England’s top league like Brazil — particularly Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah as one of the three players over the age of 24 permitted in the men’s competition.
“We had to take advantage of the few opportunities we had,” Brazil coach André Jardine said. “We know from now on there won’t be any more high scores for the rest of the tournament.”
Irish boxer injures ankle, will miss semifinal bout
Aidan Walsh has been forced out of his semifinal bout at the Tokyo Olympics after the Irish welterweight injured his ankle while celebrating his quarterfinal victory.
Boxing officials announced that Walsh did not attend the medical check and weigh-in before his scheduled bout with Britain’s Pat McCormack, who advances to the gold medal bout by walkover.
Walsh, who is from Belfast, will still win a bronze medal. But he appeared to cost himself a chance at gold by celebrating overzealously after he beat Merven Clair of Mauritius 4:1 on Friday to advance to the medal bouts.
Walsh wildly jumped up and down after the verdict was announced, and he landed awkwardly on his ankle. The Irish team said Walsh sprained his ankle, and he was spotted by Irish media leaving the Kokugikan Arena in a wheelchair later Friday.
The Irish team confirmed Walsh is out of the Olympics because of an ankle injury, saying only that it occurred during his bout. Walsh clearly was healthy and mobile throughout his fight until he came up in pain from his celebration.
“What Aidan did this week is an incredible achievement,” said Bernard Dunne, Ireland team leader for boxing. “His performance throughout the tournament has been outstanding, and it is great to see him write his name in the annals of Irish sport.”
The top-seeded McCormack was favored to beat Walsh. McCormack now will face the winner of the other welterweight semifinal between Roniel Iglesias of Cuba and the Russian team’s Andrei Zamkovoy.
Ireland has two other boxers still fighting for medals. Walsh’s bronze is his nation’s 17th medal in boxing, representing roughly half of all the medals won by the Irish team in its Olympic history.
France mixes up Japan’s gold hopes in judo
Japan’s hopes of adding yet another judo gold to its collection were dashed, after succumbing to France, 4-1, in the newly introduced mixed team final on the last day of judo competition at Nippon Budokan. The second-place finish was a bittersweet end to a remarkable run by Japan’s “dream team” — Tsukasa Yoshida, Chizuru Arai, Akira Sone, Shohei Ono, Shoichiro Mukai and Aaron Wolf — four of whom won individual gold in Tokyo . . . Mete Gazoz of Turkey won the men’s individual archery title. It was the first gold medal won by a country other than South Korea, which went 4 for 5 in archery over the Olympics. Gazoz beat Mauro Nespoli of Italy in the final by a 6-4 score. He earned Turkey its first Olympic medal in archery . . . Taiwan’s Lee Yang and Wang Chi-Lin swept China’s Li Jun Hui and Liu Yu Chen for gold in the men’s doubles badminton final. The unseeded Taiwan, after a shaky start, took the first game 21-18, with a highly aggressive style, and then dominated China in the second, 21-12 . . . The Russian Olympic Committee won the women’s team saber fencing after beating France, 45-41, in the final. The Russian athletes were 20-14 down after four of the nine bouts in the final before Olga Nikitina turned it around by winning the fifth bout 11-3 over Charlotte Lembach . . . New Zealand beat France, 26-12, to win the women’s rugby sevens title. It was a gold medal five years in the making for a New Zealand lineup that lost the 2016 final to Australia when rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in Rio de Janeiro . . . China won its 20th gold medal as Lu Yunxiu edged Charlie Picon of France in women’s windsurfing. Lu finished the competition with 36 points to Picon’s 38. Emma Wilson of Britain took the bronze in sailing . . . Kiran Badloe won the Netherlands’ third straight gold medal in windsurfing RS:X. Thomas Goyard of France earned silver and Bi Kun of China was third, becoming the first male athlete from China to medal in sailing . . . Spain’s Alberto Fernandez and Fatima Galvez won gold in mixed team trap shooting. They defeated San Marino’s Gian Marco Berti and Alessandra Perilli, 41-40 in the gold medal match . . . Nina Christen of Switzerland won women’s 50-meter three-position rifle for her second medal. Christen pumped her fist after a 10.2 on her final shot and had an Olympic-record 463.9 points to beat Russian Yulia Zykova by 2.0 . . . Ivan Litvinovich gave Belarus a second consecutive gold in men’s trampoline. The 20-year-old Litvinovich put together a spectacular routine during the finals, posting a score of 61.715 to edge 2012 Olympic champion Dong Dong of China. Dylan Schmidt of New Zealand earned the bronze . . . Lyu Xiaojun won gold in the men’s 81-kilogram weightlifting category after Italian rival Antonino Pizzolato missed with a shot at the clean and jerk world record . . . Fares Elbakh of Qatar won the gold medal in the men’s 96-kilogram weightlifting category with a dominant performance, earning the country’s first Olympic title.