US opens 2nd-chance Olympic baseball qualifying vs Nicaragua

CARY, N.C. (AP) — The United States will open its second chance to qualify for the baseball tournament at the Tokyo Olympics when it faces Nicaragua on May 31 at Port St. Lucie, Florida.

The U.S., managed by Mike Scioscia, plays the Dominican Republic the next day at West Palm Beach in a Baseball Americas Qualifier, the World Baseball Softball Confederation announced Thursday. It closes first-round play in Group A against Puerto Rico on June 2 at Port St. Lucie,

Canada, Colombia, Cuba and Venezuela are in Group B.

The top two teams in each group advance to the super round on June 4 and June 5, and first-round results carry over. The top team from the super round joins Japan, Israel, Mexico and South Korea at the Olympic baseball tournament, to be played in Japan from July 28 to Aug. 7 in Fukushima and Yokohama.

Second- and third-place teams advance to a final qualifier in June in Taiwan, which will include Australia, China, Netherlands and Taiwan.

A yet-to-be-announced roster of minor leaguers and released players will represent the U.S. Only players not on 26-man major league rosters and injured lists will be eligible.

The U.S. was three outs from qualifying for the Olympics in November 2019 at the Premier12 tournament in Tokyo when it wasted a ninth-inning lead and lost to Mexico 3-2 in 10 innings.

Baseball is returning to the Olympics after being dropped for 2012 and 2016. Cuba won the gold medal in 1992, 1996 and 2004, the United States in 2000 and South Korea in 2008.

Baseball is likely to be dropped for the 2024 Olympics in Paris and then restored again for 2028 in Los Angeles.

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