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2004 Olympics: Day Seven Recap
Compiled By John Manuel
Japan Clinches Top Seed; Cuba, Canada, Australia follow in medal round
Complete Index of 2004 Olympic Coverage
Canada 11, Australia 0
Ending a two-game losing streak, Canada shut out Australia to secure third place in round-robin play. At 5-2, Canada now plays 6-1 Cuba in the first game of the medal round, while 4-3 Australia enters medal-round play as the fourth seed and plays top-seeded Japan (6-1).
Those semifinal games will be played Tuesday. The losers meet Wednesday for the bronze medal, while the winners square off Wednesday night for the gold.
"We played (Cuba) tough," outfielder Ryan Radmanovich said of Cuba, which beat Canada 5-2 in the round-robin. "We know we can beat them."
Radmanovich (Somerset, independent) and Jeremy Ware (Expos) both homered, and lefthander Phil Devey (Mariners)--who replaced Jeff Francis on the roster--allowed just two hits over six scoreless innings to pick up the win. Canada posted its fourth shutout out of five wins.
"I felt great," said Devey following his Olympic debut. "I wasn't really nervous. I worked my butt off to get here."
Canada began its offensive barrage in the third inning, when a sacrifice fly by Danny Klassen (Tigers) and a two-run double by Andy Stewart (Winnipeg, independent) staked the team to a 3-0 lead. Radmanovich followed with a two-run home run in the fourth inning to also score Ware, who had doubled.
"We hadn't played to our potential (recently) so it's nice to get some momentum going into the medal round," said Ware, whose three-run home run capped off a six-run ninth inning to give Canada its total of 11 runs--a tournament high for the club.
Canada, which had only scored five runs in its last three games while managing just 17 hits in that span, notched 12 hits against Australia.
"Hitting is contagious," said Radmanovich. "Once a couple of guys found a sweet spot, everyone began to relax at the plate."
Australia, meanwhile, gets a rematch with Japan and has ace righthander Chris Oxspring (Padres) rested and ready for the medal round. The Aussies handed Japan its only defeat in the round-robin.
"We got them one time, and maybe they have some doubt in their minds," veteran Aussie lefthander Graeme Lloyd said. "Hopefully that will help. We've got our sites on the prize and we're going after it."
Cuba 5, Italy 0
Four Cuba pitchers combined for the team's first Olympic shutout in 2004 and sent Italy to last place in the Olympic round-robin.
Roughed up in his last outing against Japan, Cuba starter Vicyohandri Odelin was in better command and pitched a perfect two innings to start the game. Luis Borroto was even more effective in relief, pitching one-hit ball for three innings and striking out six on his way to his second win of the competition. Frank Montieth pitched two innings and had three strikeouts and Manuel Vega closed the game out with a perfect two innings including three strikeouts. Cuba's 14 strikeouts was a tournament-high.
Cuba took control of the game in the second inning with three runs. With Osmani Urrutia and Frederich Cepeda on base after hits, Ariel Pestano slapped a single to right field. On the play, Italy right fielder Mario Chiarini misplayed the sharply hit ball and it rolled by him all the way to the wall and two runs scored. Carlos Tabares added a two-out RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
Pestano finished the night 4-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs with Cepeda and Urrutia going 2-for-4 as the Cubans tallied 11 hits. Italy starter Michael Marchesano pitched well despite the loss. He went six innings limiting Cuba to four runs on eight hits.
"I believe Japan is the favorite," Italy's team captain, Claudio Liverziani, said after the game. "But Cuba can definitely not be underestimated."
Japan 6, Greece 1
Greece's first-ever Olympic baseball team ended play 1-6 with a loss to Japan. Shinya Miyamoto went 4-for-4 and Kosuke Fukudome hit his third home run of the Olympics as Japan clinched the top seed in the medal round.
"Our objective is to get the gold medal, and that's why we came here to Athens," Japan manager Kiyoshi Nakahata said. "We'll put in all our effort for the remaining two games."
Greece scored its lone run in the seventh inning on a solo home run from 38-year-old ex-big leaguer Erik Pappas, who had three of Greece's four hits on the afternoon. The Greeks kept the game close for six innings, trailing just 2-0 as Mel Melehes (London, independent) limited Japan to seven hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings.
"That's the Japanese major league team, and it was good to stay close with them for a while," Greek coach Dusty Rhodes (U. of North Florida) said. "You have to have the horses to stay with them. Right now, I think they are the favorites to win the gold medal.
"I'm proud of how our guys played. Every game we hung in there and overall we did a good job. I think we accomplished our goal of introducing baseball to Greece."
But Japan scored four in the seventh off reliever Alex Cremidan (Diamondbacks) for a 6-0 lead. After Kazuhiro Wada led off with a single, Fukudome launched a two-run homer to right field. Yoshinobu Takahashi would add a two-run single later in the inning.
Naoyuki Shimiziu picked up his first win after going 6 1/3 innings and allowing one run on four hits. He also struck out nine. Japan had 13 hits on the game while Greece had just four.
"We played as hard as we could," Greek third baseman Vasili Spanos (Athletics) said. "But we lost our manager (Rob Derksen), three pitchers and two people to drug tests."
Japan went ahead 1-0 in the top of the second inning as Kenji Jojima led off the frame with a single and scored on a two-out double from Michihiro Ogasawara. They increased the lead in the sixth inning as Miyamoto scored on a two-out RBI single off the bat of Yoshitomo Tani.
Fukudome leads Japan in home runs and RBIs while hitting .333-3-9 in the tournament. Japan owns tournament-bests with a .329 average and 13 home runs. Miyamoto leads all individuals in hitting at .517.
Taiwan 5, Netherlands 1
Three pitchers combined to throw a one-hitter to help Taiwan finish the tournament with a 3-4 record. The Netherlands lost its last two games to finish 2-5, but neither team qualified for the medal round.
Taiwan starter Wei-Lun Pan earned his second win, going six innings and allowing one run on one hit with five strikeouts. Wei-Yin Chen pitched two innings and Chun-Chang Huang closed the game out in the ninth inning. Taiwan was led at bat by Wei-Chu Lin, who went 3-for-5, while Chin-Feng Chen (Dodgers) finished a solid tournament with a 3-for-4 effort.
The Dutch got their run on a solo homer by former big leaguer Eugene Kingsale (Orioles). Netherlands starting pitcher Patrick de Lange took the loss and was 1-1 in the tournament. He worked six innings and allowed three runs on eights hits.
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.