The U.S. baseball team qualified for the Olympics with a 4-2 victory over Venezuela Saturday in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Baseball Americas Qualification Event with UCLA and Edison High School alumnus Eric Filia hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning for the first U.S. runs.
Former Los Angeles Dodger Edwin Jackson, the third of four U.S. pitchers, was credited with the victory, pitching two hitless innings in the Super Round game at Port St. Lucie, Florida, retiring the final five batters he faced after hitting Yonny Hernández with a pitch leading off the seventh.
Todd Frazier drove in the other U.S. runs with a double in the fifth and a homer in the seventh, part of a 4-for-4 day where also scored on Filia’s home run. Frazier opted for free agency May 13 three days after being designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The 35-year-old has played for six major league teams since debuting in 2011.
Venezuela scored its runs on a third-inning home run by Hernán Perez, a utility player with the Nashville Sounds, the Milwaukee Brewers’ Triple-A affiliate, who has played 651 games with four major league teams since 2012, and a sixth-inning double by Ramon Flores, an outfielder with the Rochester Red Wings, the Washington Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate, who has played 119 major league games, including three with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017.
Anibal Sánchez, who pitched for four major league teams from 2006-20, was charged with the loss, allowing three runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings with five strikeouts.
Players on major league teams’ 40-man rosters were not eligible to play in the event.
The U.S. team is managed by former Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Its roster includes former Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp, who did not play after going hitless in four at-bats in the 7-1 victory over Nicaragua in Monday’s opener.
Filia has played in the Seattle Mariners’ organization since being chosen in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was suspended for 100 games in 2019 following a third positive test for a drug of abuse under baseball’s minor league drug program.
Filia was selected for the 2013 All-College World Series team after batting .333 and driving in eight runs, including five in the championship-clinching game, as the Bruins won their lone NCAA baseball title. He was known as Eric Snyder before taking his father’s surname in 2013.
The U.S. joins Israel, South Korea, Mexico and host Japan in the six-team field in the Olympics. The Dominican Republic, which finished second in the Americas Qualification Event, and Venezuela, the third-place finisher, will be among four teams playing in WBSC Baseball Final Qualifier June 22-26 in Puebla, Mexico for the final berth.
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