Baseball/Softball: World Number One Japan Wins Premier12 as South Korea and Mexico Qualify to the Olympics

In a tight final, host nation Japan won the second edition of the Premier12. The Premier12 is a baseball competition featuring the twelve highest ranked teams. In terms of Olympic qualification, the highest ranked Pan American nation and the highest ranked Asian or Oceania nation qualified to the games, provided that they reached the Super Round. The format consisted of three groups of four teams held in different nations where the top two advanced to the Super Round held in two cities in Japan. The two highest ranked teams competed in the final. The 2019 Premier12 was held from November 2nd to November 17th 2019.

Group A was held in Zapopan, Mexico. The biggest upset in the group occurred when the host nation defeated the United States 8-2 on route to winning the group. The United States would also advance to the Super Round thanks to victories over the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands. The Dominican Republic finished third thanks to a 14-4 win over the Netherlands in seven innings.

Group B was held in Taichung, Taiwan. The group saw no seeding upsets as world ranked number one Japan won the group by going undefeated, including an 8-1 victory over Chinese Taipei during the final match of the group. Chinese Taipei also advanced to the next round with wins over Puerto Rico and Venezuela while the latter defeated Puerto Rico to finish third.

Group C was held in Seoul, South Korea. The host nation went undefeated to win the group while Australia, Canada and Cuba all went 1-2 to finished tied on points. Using the tiebreaking system, it was Australia whom had the best result, allowing them to advance to the Super Round. Canada finished third while Cuba finished fourth.

Results against advancing teams from the previous round also carried over to the Super Round. With six of the top seven nations competing, the competition was fierce with no team going undefeated and no team going winless. On the penultimate day, thanks to South Korea’s 7-3 victory over Mexico both Japan and South Korea advanced to the finals while the latter also qualified to the Olympics. The final day of this round saw the United States book their spot to the bronze medal match against Mexico, thanks to Chinese Taipei’s 5-1 victory over Australia. The winner of the round was Japan as they defeated South Korea 10-8 in what was essentially a preview of the final.

The final was another tight affair with South Korea scoring three runs in the first and Japan scoring three of their own in the second. In the end, Japan won the tournament 5-3. The bronze medal match and the game that determined the second Olympic quota saw Mexico and the United States tied 2-2 after nine innings. In the tenth inning, Mexico was able to clinch the game thanks to a single by Efren Navarro that allowed Noah Perio to run home, winning the game 3-2.

South Korea is the defending Olympic champion, having won gold back in 2008 while Mexico will be making their Olympic debut. Pan American nations will have one more opportunity to qualify to the Olympic via the Americas qualifier while the rest of the world, including the Americas will have another opportunity at the final Olympic qualifier.

Qualified Nations

Men’s Baseball
* Mexico
* South Korea

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