The United States stumbled for the second time in Olympic baseball qualifying, losing to South Korea 5-1 on Monday night in Tokyo.
The Americans dropped to 0-2 in the super round of the Premier12 tournament, which serves as Olympic qualifying. The record includes an 8-2 group stage loss on Nov. 3 against Mexico (2-0), which is carried over to the super round standings. The Mexicans opened the super round with a 2-0 win over Taiwan on Monday at Chiba City.
The U.S., managed by Scott Brosius, plays Japan on Tuesday, Australia on Wednesday and Taiwan on Friday.
Kim Jae-hwan hit a three-run homer in the first inning off loser Cody Ponce, a right-hander acquired by Pittsburgh in July for Jordan Lyles.
Minnesota's Brent Rooker homered in the sixth against starter Yang Hyeon-jong, who got the win. The South Koreans widened their lead in the seventh on consecutive RBI doubles by Kim Ha-seong off Seattle's Wyatt Mills and Lee Jung-hoo against Atlanta's Caleb Thielbar.
The U.S. loaded the bases with one out in the first, but Tampa Bay's Jake Cronenworth and Rooker struck out.
After the super round, which also includes Japan and Australia, the first- and second-place teams advance to the gold-medal game and the third- and fourth-place teams play for the bronze. The top finisher from the Americas, the U.S. or Mexico, qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics next year. The second-place finisher from the Americas goes to a final qualifying tournament in March or April.
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