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2004 Olympics: Day Four Recap
Compiled By John Manuel
Australia upsets Japan, Canada remains unbeaten
Complete Index of 2004 Olympic Coverage
Australia 9, Japan 4
Australia scored six unanswered runs in the seventh and eighth innings on its way to an upset of Japan on the fourth day of play at the 2004 Olympics. Australia improves to 2-2 in the tournament while the loss drops Japan to 3-1.
The win for Australia marks the country's first win against Japan in three contests at the Olympic Games. Japan defeated Australia at the 1996 Games in Atlanta as well as the 2000 Games in Sydney.
Coming off an emotional win against Cuba the previous night, Japan fought back from an early three-run deficit to gain a 4-3 lead. But Australia took control of the game in the seventh inning though as it put together five consecutive hits off Japan relievers Daisuke Miura and Hirotoshi Ishii.
Andrew Utting, Thomas Brice (White Sox) and Brett Tamburrino (Twins) each singled to open up the inning and load the bases. Rodney van Buizen (Dodgers) then knocked an RBI single past the Japanese infield to score Utting and chase Miura form the game. Gavin Fingleson (New Haven, independent) continued the onslaught of singles with a base hit that drove home both Brice and Tamburrino.
With a three-run lead, Australia continued the offensive surge in the eighth inning, as former big leaguer David Nilsson launched a solo homer to right field and van Buizen hit a two-run single. The Australians finished with 15 hits, including three from Nilsson and a 2-for-4 performance with three RBIs from van Buizen.
Lefthander Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners) earned the victory after pitching one inning of relief. Former big leaguer Jeff Williams came on in the seventh inning to earn his first save of the tournament with three scoreless innings. He allowed just one hit and had three strikeouts.
Australia was in command most of the game taking a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. Brett Roneberg (Red Sox) singled with one out and advanced to third base on a single by Nilsson, then scored when shortstop Shinya Miyamoto misplayed the cutoff throw. After another single from Glenn Williams (Blue Jays), former Mariners farmhand Brendan Kingman laced a single to left that scored Nilsson and advanced Williams. Williams scored on Brice's RBI single.
Japan battled back in the fourth and fifth innings with Kosuke Fukudome's three-run homer, giving the Japanese a one-run cushion. Japan leads the tournament with a team-high seven home runs in four games. Fukudome is one of only four players to have two home runs in the Olympics. Miyamoto finished 3-for-4 to lead Japan with Fukudome going 2-for-5.
Canada 2, Greece 0
Four Canada pitchers combined to throw a four-hit shutout to keep Greece winless and give Canada the tournament's best record.
"Good ball clubs win games like this," Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt said. "The fact we were able to get (strong pitching), everything fell into place. "This puts us in a good position."
Red-hot third baseman Peter Orr (Braves) had two doubles, one RBI and a run scored to pace Canada, which had just five hits, at the plate. He had a hand in all of the game's scoring. Orr doubled to lead off the game and scored when Klassen's grounder to Greek shortstop Nick Theodorou (Dodgers) got through for an error.
He then hit a two-out, RBI double in the seventh to score Adam Stern (Braves), leaving him 5-for-12 in the tournament with five runs and eight RBIs. Orr was hitting .333 for Triple-A Richmond and ranked fourth in the International League in batting before the Olympics.
Canada's pitching staff has been dominating in the country's first official appearance in Olympic baseball. The shutout was its third in the preliminaries. Canada defeated both Taiwan and the Netherlands 7-0 and gave up three runs to Italy in its other win.
Former big league lefty Paul Spoljaric--whom Greece touched for three runs two weeks ago in an exhibition game in Baltimore--picked up the win for Canada after hurling 5 1/3 innings with four strikeouts and three hits allowed. Aaron Myette (Reds) worked the final inning to pick up his first save, following middle-relief work by righthander Chris Begg (Giants) and Mike Kusiewicz (Brewers).
Greece continued to receive solid pitching despite the loss. Mel Melehes (London, independent) pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing both runs on three hits. Greece had just four hits though and has just 12 in four games.
"Our pitching in this tournament was better than expected," Greek coach Dusty Rhodes (U. of North Florida) said. "We are a better hitting team, but we couldn't break loose. Besides, it's our first time in the Olympics, while the other teams have very experienced players."
Netherlands 10, Italy 4
Chairon Isenia (Devil Rays) went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and Sharnol Adriana (Monclova, Mexican) added two hits, including a home run, as the Netherlands defeated European rival Italy. The Netherlands are 2-2 after the first four days of competition while Italy holds a 0-4 record.
Trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Netherlands stormed back as five consecutive batters reached base. Isenia's RBI single and Eugene Kingsale's (Orioles) bases-loaded two-run double gave Netherlands a 6-4 advantage.
The Netherlands added two more runs in the seventh inning with Isenia coming through again, this time with a bases loaded single to score Adriana and Dirk van'T Klooster. The Netherlands finished its scoring in the eighth inning with their final two runs as Adriana knocked a RBI single and van'T Klooster hit a RBI sacrifice fly.
Patrick de Lange earned the win for the Netherlands out of the bullpen working two 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. He did not allow run with just two batters reaching base on singles. Lefthander Ferenc Jongejan (Cubs) pitched the final two innings for the Netherlands.
Italy chased Dutch ace Rob Cordemans in the fifth A two-out RBI double from James Buccheri scored David Francia and Davide Dallospedale as the Italians gained a 4-3 edge over the Netherlands, but Italy's pitchers couldn't hold the lead.
Cuba 10, Taiwan 2
After suffering only its third defeat in the Olympics since 1992 in a 6-3 loss to Japan on Tuesday, Cuba responded to drub Taiwan with a tournament game-high of 15 hits. Cuba is now 3-1 in the competition while Taiwan falls to 2-2.
"We're not just going for a medal; we're going for the gold," Cuba manager Higino Velez said. "The most important thing for us now is to qualify for the semifinals and play well throughout the tournament.
"Sometimes we are not very lucky, like in the game against Japan yesterday. But the Japanese also lost today. One day you can win, one day you can lose; it's part of the game. Tonight we showed how we really play."
Osmani Urrutia led Cuba with a 3-for-4 effort and two RBIs, while Eriel Sanchez went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBIs. Frederich Cepeda and Danny Miranda also had two hits.
Cuba was also very effective on the mound as Luis Borroto and Danny Betancourt limited Taiwan to just six hits. Borroto picked up the win after going 5 1/3 scoreless innings and allowing just four hits. Betancourt pitched the rest of the game to earn his first save.
Sanchez got things started for Cuba in the second inning with a solo home run to take a one-run lead. Cuba added two in the third on Yulieski Gourriel's sacrifice fly and Urrutia's RBI single.
Cuba put the game away when it scored five times to gain an 8-0 lead in the eighth. Urrutia had another RBI single, Ariel Pestano cleared the bases with a three-run double and Miranda collected a RBI base hit.
Taiwan's losing pitcher Chang-Wei Tu lasted only 2 2/3 innings allowing three runs on four hits. Chin-Feng Chen (Dodgers) and Tai-Shan Chang had two hits to lead Taiwan.
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.