Lynna Irby of the United States wipes a tear away after the 1,600-meter mixed relay on Friday. The team was disqualified for a bad handoff, but later won a appeal and was reinstated. Petr David Josek/Associated Press

TOKYO — The U.S. men have a long history of dicey baton exchanges in the Olympic relays. So do the U.S. women.

Their latest was a first-of-its-kind chance to flub one together, which they might have, but they caught a break that gives them a chance to still win a medal.

The country’s difficult history in relay races reappeared in the Olympic debut of the 1,600-meter mixed relay when the team was disqualified for a bad exchange, only to be reinstated after filing a middle-of-the-night protest that got resolved early Saturday in Japan.

Officials originally ruled that Lynna Irby had positioned herself outside the passing zone when she received the exchange from Elija Godwin in Friday night’s preliminary heat.

Later, they overturned that decision on appeal. USA Track and Field announced the change but did not provide details of what happened. The Dominican Republic also had been disqualified but was later reinstated.

In the 1,600 relay, officials direct the next group of runners onto the track to try to maintain a semblance of order in the sometimes-crowded exchange zone. Runners can be every bit as attuned to where the officials tell them to line up as to the teammate about to give them the baton.

“Mistakes happen,” Godwin said before the appeal. “We are human. We do make mistakes.”

Because the decision was overturned, Allyson Felix could get a chance to win her record 10th Olympic medal Saturday night. She helped the U.S. win this race in its debut at the world championships two years ago.

If she is placed in the lineup for the final, she can break a tie with Jamaican great Merlene Ottey for the most women’s track medals in Olympic history. Felix will also run next week in the women’s 400 and could have a spot in the women’s 1,600 relay next weekend.

BEACH VOLLEYBALL: Sarah Sponcil and Kelly Claes rallied from a first-set loss to beat Brazil’s Rebecca and Ana Patricia in their preliminary round finale. The U.S. women went 3-0 in the round-robin, as did the other American team of April Ross and Alix Klineman.

After losing the first set 21-17, Sponcil and Claes opened a 19-14 lead in the second before losing four straight points. Then Rebecca served one long, and on the first set point, Sponcil angled a shot into the corner to tie the match.

The Americans scored six of the first seven points in the third set to pull away and win 15-11.

Both U.S. men’s teams finished the preliminary round with 2-1 records. The knockout round begins on Sunday.

TRIATHLON: The U.S. team of Katie Zaferes, Kevin McDowell, Taylor Knibb and Morgan Pearson won a silver medal in the Olympic debut of the triathlon mixed relay.

Great Britain won the event and France claimed bronze.


MEN’S VOLLEYBALL: A serve at a key moment going into the net. Blocking strategy that was poorly executed. Attacks that couldn’t get through Brazil’s defense at the net.

Those kinds of mistakes left the usually calm U.S. Coach John Speraw bewildered on the sideline and knowing the Americans can ill afford any more setbacks following a four-set loss to Brazil in pool play.

“I was pretty frustrated today,” Speraw said. “We really weren’t executing and that can get frustrating when we’re not executing. That’s something that I expect. If we say we’re going to do this, we need to go do that.”

After pulling out a grueling opening set 32-30, the Americans dropped the next three to Brazil 25-23, 25-21, 25-20.

The loss leaves the U.S. with a 2-2 record with one match remaining in pool play on Sunday against Argentina. Defending gold medalist Brazil is 3-1.

“I don’t think the match was really one-sided,” American Matt Anderson said. “They got a couple of runs here and there. But I think we were able to shut down their runs early on the first set, and that gave us a chance. But in the second, third and fourth, they put aside a few strings of points together that were hard to come back from.”

The U.S. can clinch a spot in the quarterfinals with a win against Argentina, giving it a chance to win another medal after getting bronze five years ago in Rio de Janeiro. A loss would likely send the Americans home after pool play for the first time since 2000, when they lost all five matches in Sydney.

BASEBALL:  Joe Ryan allowed five hits over six innings in his first outing since he was swapped, and speedskating silver medalist Eddy Alvarez and Tyler Austin powered the offense to lead the United States over Israel 8-1 in the Americans’ opener.

Ryan (1-0), a 25-year-old Triple-A right-hander, was in the dining hall when U.S. teammate Eric Filia told him Cruz was being sent to the Rays. Ryan looked at Shane Baz, his fellow Rays minor leaguer on the U.S. team, and Baz guessed one of them would be involved.

Ryan, likely within a year of a big league debut, relied on a 92 mph fastball. He gave one run and struck out three.

• Melky Cabrera hit a run-scoring single with two outs in the fifth and Jose Bautista threw out the potential tying run at home plate as the Dominicans (1-1) beat Mexico (0-1), 1-0.

Charlie Valerio, a 30-year-old catcher with Sioux Falls in the independent American Association, doubled leading off the fifth against Teddy Stankiewicz (0-1), a 27-year-old right-hander who pitched in Boston’s minor league system and is with Tijuana. Cabrera, a 15-year big league veteran who last played with Pittsburgh in 2019, sliced a single to left.

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