South Africa's progress is now on a knife-edge ©WBSC

South Africa's hopes of participating in the baseball competition at Tokyo 2020 suffered a major setback after a convincing defeat to Spain in the Africa/Europe qualification event in Bologna.

The South African team are the only chance for the continent to have representation in the baseball event at next year's Olympic Games.

It followed their victory at the African Championships in May, which gave them a place in the Africa/Europe qualifier in Italy.

South Africa are hoping to qualify for the Olympic baseball tournament for the first time since Sydney 2000, the last time Africa had representation in the event.

Their prospects were dented after falling to a 7-1 loss to Spain in the Gianni Falchi venue in Bologna today.

South Africa now face an uphill battle for qualification, with the result putting more pressure on their postponed first match against Italy.

The tie was halted at 4-4 in the sixth inning yesterday, due to poor weather conditions.

The World Baseball Softball Confederation say the match will resume tomorrow, prior to the third round of group matches.

Spain's victory over South Africa gave their team a much-needed boost after losing to Israel yesterday.

Israel and European champions The Netherlands aimed to seek their second wins of the tournament when they met in the evening match at the Nino Cavalli Stadium in Parma.

Israel produced an impressive performance to earn a surprise 8-1 win.

Hosts Italy beat the Czech Republic 5-1 in another evening fixture in Bologna.

The round-robin competition runs until Sunday (September 22), with the winner joining Japan in next year's Olympic baseball tournament, as the host nation qualify automatically.

Two places are decided at the World Baseball Softball Confederation's Premier12 tournament in Tokyo in November.

The Americas qualifying event in Arizona next March will decide one qualifier.

Chinese Taipei will host the final qualifier next year, with a single place on offer.