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Japan get gold, Mexico secure 2020 Olympic baseball spot

Mexican players celebrate their win against the US in Tokyo (AFP Photo/CHARLY TRIBALLEAU)

Tokyo (AFP) - Japan defeated South Korea 5-3 in the final of the WBSC Premier 12 baseball tournament, while Mexico beat the US 3-2 to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

South Korea opened up the game with two homers by Kim Ha-seong and Kim Hyun-soo in the top of the first inning, scoring a total of three runs.

But the lead was quickly taken by Japan in the bottom of the second inning when Tetsuto Yamada smashed a three-run homer to deep left field.

In the seventh inning, Hideto Asamura singled to right centre, making the score 5-3.

Japan's closer Yasuaki Yamasaki earned two consecutive groundouts and a strikeout to end the game.

"Our players were in the field with never-give-up spirits, so I knew they will take the lead," Japan manager Atsunori Inaba said in a post-game interview.

South Korea "is a very strong Asian rival, and I'm expecting that we will play another great game in the Olympics next year," Inaba added.

Hosts Japan advanced to the final after finishing top in the six-nation Super Round with a 4-1 win-loss record, ahead of second -placed South Korea (3-2).

South Korea were the gold medallists of the inaugural Premier 12 competition four years ago while Japan took the bronze medal in 2015.

Earlier Sunday, Mexico edged the United States 3-2 after 10 innings to take third place and earn a spot at next year's Olympic Games.

Matthew Clark's solo homer for Mexico at the bottom of the ninth tied the bronze medal match 2-2, sending it to extra innings.

Efren Navarro's single to centre field at the bottom of the 10th drove home the winning run to seal Mexico's Olympic berth.

One Olympic place for the Americas and one for Asia were up for grabs, meaning South Korea have also secured their spot by virtue of Japan already being qualified as hosts.

Taiwan finished fifth in the standings with Australia sixth.