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2004 Olympics: Day Three Recap
Compiled By John Manuel
Matsuzaka, Japan Upend Cuba; Canada stays unbeaten
Complete Index of 2004 Olympic Coverage
Japan 6, Cuba 3
Japan hit three home runs in the first four innings, and righthander Daisuke Matsuzaka held Cuba scoreless for eight innings as Japan defeated Cuba 6-3 on the third day of play at the 2004 Olympic Baseball Tournament. The win moves Japan's record to 3-0 and is its first win in official Olympic play against Cuba. The loss drops Cuba to 2-1 in the competition and is only its third loss in official Olympic play dating back to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona (27-3 record).
Matsuzaka, who pitched for Japan's last Olympic team as well, was effective on the mound, pitching 8 1/3 innings to pick up the win. He did not allow a run until the ninth inning, when Cuba rallied to make a game of it. Cuba broke Matsuzaka's bid for a shutout in the final inning with three runs. Ariel Pestano had a one-out double that scored two runs, and Antonio Scull laced a RBI single to cut the deficit in half at 6-3. Japan reliever Hirotoshi Ishii came on to record the final two outs on strikeouts, retiring Yorelvis Charles and Danny Miranda to earn a save and preserve the Japanese victory.
The Japanese offense also was strong with 12 hits, including all three home runs off Cuba starter Vicyohandri Odelin. Norihiro Nakamura went 3-for-4 at the plate, and Atsushi Fujimoto and Shinya Miyamoto finished with two hits apiece.
Japan opened up a 2-0 lead on Cuba in the second inning on a two-out homer to left field by Kazuhiro Wada. They added to it in the fourth inning with back-to-back solo home runs from Kenji Jojima and Nakamura that knocked Odelin out of the game. Odelin was charged with the loss allowing four runs on four hits.
Japan increased its lead to 5-0 in the seventh inning as consecutive singles from Wada and Fujimoto set the table for Kosuke Fukudome, who knocked a sacrifice fly to left to score Wada. Japan scored its final run in the eighth inning as pinch-hitter Arihito Muramatsu tripled and scored on a RBI single from Fujimoto.
Yulieski Gourriel and Pestano each batted 2-for-4 to lead the Cuba offense.
Prince Tsunekazu Takeda, president of the Japanese Olympic Committee threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the game. Also in attendance for the game was former IOC president, Juan Antonio Samaranch and Comandante Jose' Ramon Fernandez, president of the Cuban Olympic Committee.
Both teams will play their fourth game Wednesday with Japan (3-0) playing Australia (1-2) while Cuba (2-1) takes on Taiwan (2-1).
Australia 6, Italy 0
Padres righthander Chris Oxspring pitched eight scoreless innings and combined with Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners) on a one-hitter as Australia defeated Italy.
Oxspring was perfect through five innings before allowing a leadoff single in the sixth and allowed just two batters to reach base in his outing to earn the victory. Australia is now 1-2 in the competition while Italy falls to 0-3.
After six scoreless innings of play, Brett Roneberg (Red Sox) hit a two-out double to left field that scored Gavin Fingleson (New Haven, independent) and Rodney van Buizen (Dodgers) to give Australia a 2-0 lead. Australia expanded its lead in the eighth inning with four more runs. Roneberg had another RBI single along with David Nilsson, Andrew Utting and Fingleson to put Australia well out in front of the Italians. (Utting, a catcher and former Orioles farmhand, was incorrectly referred to as Ben Utting yesterday.)
Australia finished the night with 12 hits, its most in a tournament game at this year's Olympics. The Aussies managed only one run in their first two games against Taiwan and Cuba. Outfielder Thomas Brice (White Sox) batting 3-for-5 and Roneberg and Nilsson each going 2-for-4.
Italy received a solid outing from starter Michael Marchesano despite the loss. Marchesano went 6 2/3 innings allowing two runs--both unearned--on six hits and three walks.
Both teams continue action tomorrow with an all-Europe game between Italy and The Netherlands while Australia faces Japan.
Taiwan 7, Greece 1
A five-run seventh inning helped lift Taiwan (2-1) over winless Greece.
Wei-Lun Pan earned the win for Taiwan, hurling six shutout innings allowing just one hit and three walks. Clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, Taiwan scored five runs and had five consecutive players reach base, with Chih-Yuan Chen driving in two runs on a double as well as RBI hits from Chung-Yi Huang and Chin-Feng Chen.
Chih-Yuan Chen was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored and three RBIs to lead Taiwan. Cheng-Min Peng also went 2-for-3 as Taipei belted out nine hits against the Greek pitching staff.
Taiwan gained a 1-0 lead in the third inning a solo home run from Chih-Yuan Chen, the first of the tournament for Taiwan. They added to their lead in the fourth inning as Cheng-Min Peng doubled and scored on a RBI groundout by Tai-Shan Chang.
Greece cut the lead to 2-1 in the top of the seventh inning on a solo home run from Cory Harris (Orioles). Greece continued to struggle at the plate, though, with only three hits on the afternoon. The Greeks have eight hits total in their first three games with Nick Markakis (Orioles) leading the way with four, including one this afternoon vs. Taipei.
"We are having trouble in the mid part of our order," said Greece coach John Kazanas, a White Sox scout.
The fourth day of competition continues Wednesday with Greece against Canada and Taiwan against Cuba.
Canada 7, Netherlands 0
Peter Orr (Braves) homered and collected four RBIs, and four pitchers combined to pitch a three-hit shutout as Canada remained one of the tournament's two unbeaten teams. The shutout for Canada was its second of the competition and dropped Netherlands to 1-2.
Canada starter Shawn Hill (Expos), who replaced Justin Morneau (Twins) on the Canadian roster, went five scoreless innings, limiting the Netherlands to three hits and two walks to pick up the win. Mike Kusiewicz (Brewers), John Ogiltree (Blue Jays), Chris Mears (Tigers) and Aaron Myette (Reds) each worked one perfect inning of relief and retired 12 consecutive batters to finish the game. Netherlands starting pitcher Patrick Beljaards lasted only three innings to take the loss. Beljaards was charged with five runs on seven hits.
Canada went ahead 3-0 in the second inning on a three-run homer by Orr to deep center. The lead increased to four runs in the next inning on another homer, this time from Pete LaForest (Devil Rays), his second of the tournament.
Orr drove in his fourth run of the game with a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to score Jeff Guiel (Blue Jays). The Canadians also got a two-out solo homer from Stubby Clapp (Blue Jays) and a RBI single from LaForest to gain a seven-run cushion.
"I feel good," Orr said about his hitting after the game. "We could still get better. We don't want to peak too early but we're playing well and consistently."
Canada had 11 hits on the day. LaForest, who went 2-for-3 and had two RBIs, leads the tournament with eight RBIs. Danny Klassen (Tigers), Clapp and Adam Stern (Braves) were also 2-for-4 each scoring one run for the Canadians.
Andrew Kitick, an assistant sports information director at the University of South Carolina, is serving as a media liaison for the International Baseball Federation at the 2004 Olympics and will provide reports from Athens throughout the tournament. Baseball Canada media liaison Matt Charbonneau also is contributing to BA's coverage.