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2004 Olympics: Day Two Recap
Compiled By John Manuel
Cuba survives Greek scare; prospects Wang, Tsao help Taiwan shut out Australia
Complete Index of 2004 Olympic Coverage
Cuba 5, Greece 4
Cuba had three different players hit home runs and held off a ninth-inning rally to defeat the host Greece 5-4 in front of 6,762 fans on the second day of play at the Olympic Baseball Competition. Cuba improved to 2-0 while the loss dropped Greece to 0-2.
Down 5-1 entering the ninth, Greece made it interesting, bringing the potential winning run to the plate. Nick Markakis (Orioles), who has three hits in the first two games, launched a two-out triple off the center-field wall against Jonder Martinez to score two runs, and a RBI single by Nick Theodorou (Dodgers) scored Markakis and knocked Martinez out of the game. With the score 5-4, veteran closer Pedro Luis Lazo--who struggled in Cuba's first game of the tournament--came on in relief and was able to get Jim Kavourias (Marlins) to strike out swinging on a 3-2 count to close the game out for Cuba.
Veteran righthander Norge Vera worked five innings and allowed one run (unearned) on one hit with six strikeouts to earn the win for Cuba, while Danny Betancourt hurled 3 1/3 innings of relief allowing two runs. Greece starter Jared Theodorakos (Brewers), a former Baylor star, took the loss despite pitching a solid six innings. Theodorakos allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits with one walk and one strikeout.
Cuba wasted no time getting on the scoreboard with a run in the first inning. Shortstop Eduardo Paret bunted for a single, and as he advanced to third base on the next play, a groundout, the throw back to Greece third baseman Vasili Spanos (Athletics) got away and allowed Paret to score. Cuba increased its lead to 2-0 the next inning on a solo homer from Frederich Cepeda.
Greece cut the lead in half in the fourth inning with a run off Vera. Clay Bellinger (Orioles) walked and scored on a double to left field by Cory Harris (Orioles) that was misplayed by Cepeda. The hit by Harris was Greece's first of the game and lone hit until Markakis' triple in the ninth inning.
Cuba took a four-run lead on home runs in the sixth and seventh inning. Michel Enriquez hit a solo homer, his second of the tournament, and Ariel Pestano knocked a two-run shot giving the Cubans a 5-1 advantage.
Cuba finished the game out-hitting Greece 10-3 on the night. Paret went 3-for4, Cepeda was 2-for-2 and Pestano batted 2-for-3 to lead the Cuba at the plate.
The win for Cuba sets up a marquee showdown against Japan (2-0) on Tuesday. Cuba and Japan are two of just three teams undefeated after the first two days of play at the Olympic Baseball Tournament. Greece faces Taiwan (1-1).
Canada 9, Italy 3
Canada scored seven runs in the second inning on its way to a victory against Italy, improving to 2-0 in the tournament. The Canadians benefited from four Italian errors as they scored all their runs in the first two innings of play.
Righthander Jason Dickson (Royals) worked six innings to pick up the win for Canada. He allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits, while catcher Pete LaForest (Devil Rays) went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs. Italy out-hit Canada 9-6 despite the loss with former minor league veteran Jim Buccheri going 3-for-4.
After spotting Italy a 1-0 lead in the first inning, Canada came back with two runs in the bottom of the frame against Italy's starter, David Rollandini, to gain a 2-1 edge taking advantage of one walk, an infield error by Italy and a wild pitch.
Canada continued to take advantage of Italy's miscues with big hits and extended its lead to 9-1 in the second inning against Rollandini and reliever Fabio Milano. An RBI single from Adam Stern (Braves), a two-run triple by Stubby Clapp (Blue Jays), and a three-run homer by Laforest led the way for the Canadians.
Rollandini worked just 1 1/3 innings allowing eight runs, two earned, to take the loss for Italy.
Both teams continue preliminary action Tuesday with Canada facing the Netherlands while Italy meets Australia in a matchup of winless teams.
Taiwan 3, Australia 0
Taiwan starting pitcher Chien-Ming Wang (Yankees) pitched seven scoreless innings and Cheng-Min Peng was 2-for-3 with two RBIs as Taiwan defeated Australia. The win improves Taiwan to 1-1 while the loss drops Australia to 0-2 in the tournament. Taipei's shutout of Australia also marked the fourth shutout of the competition in just the second day.
For the second consecutive day, both teams got good performances from their starters. Wang, who pitches for Triple-A Columbus, allowed just three hits in his performance with no walks and at one point retired nine batters in row to earn the victory. Righthander Chin-Hui Tsao (Rockies) earned a save, hurling the final two innings. Australia starter John Stephens (Red Sox) gave up all three runs on seven hits to take the loss
Taiwan gained a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning. Chung-Yi Huang drove in a run, and Peng had a RBI single to give Taiwan a two-run edge. It added to the lead in the eighth inning as Peng's RBI double scored Chih-Yuan Chen, who had two hits, increasing the score to 3-0.
David Nilsson led Australia at the plate going 2-for-4 with a double.
Japan 8, The Netherlands 3
Japan rallied from an early 3-1 deficit and scored seven unanswered runs to beat the Dutch and improve to 2-0 in the competition while the loss drops the Netherlands to 1-1. The game was attended by the Royal Prince of Netherlands, Willem-Alexander Claus George Ferdinand.
Hiroki Kuroda pitched five scoreless innings of relief, recorded seven strikeouts and yielded only one hit to pick up the win for Japan. Shinya Miyamoto went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and Atsushi Fujimoto finished 2-for-4 with a home run and three RBIs as Japan out-hit the Netherlands 11-4 on the night.
Former Blue Jays farmhand Diegomar Markwell took the loss for the Netherlands after throwing 4 2/3 innings and allowing four runs on eight hits.
Both teams traded runs in the first inning of play. The Netherlands scored an unearned in the top half as ex-big leaguer Ralph Milliard opened up the game by reaching base on a fielding error by Japan third baseman Norihiro Nakamura. After a single by Eugene Kingsale (Orioles) advanced Milliard to third base, Ivanon Coffie (Astros) knocked in the first run on a RBI groundout. Japan scored its run on a pair of doubles from Kosuke Fukudome and Kenji Jojima.
The Netherlands regained the lead in the second inning with two more runs and knocked Japan starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma out of the game. Kingsale's RBI single and Coffie's second RBI groundout put the Netherlands on top, 3-1. Japan reliever Hirotoshi Ishii was able to get out of a bases loaded jam though, getting Dirk van'T Klooster to ground into a force out and end the inning.
Japan would close to within one run in their bottom half as Yoshitomo Tani doubled and scored on a two-out single by Atsushi Fujimoto.
Down 3-2, the Japanese took their first lead of the game in the bottom half of the fifth inning. A two-out RBI double from Nakamura scored Shinya Miyamoto to tie the game, and a bases-loaded walk to Michihiro Ogaswara brought home Jojima for the fourth Japan run.
Leading by one run, Japan broke the game open by scoring four more times in the eighth inning. Fujimoto hit a two-run homer, and Miyamoto and Yoshinobu Takahashi each singled home runs as the Japanese took a five run-lead.
The win for Japan sets up a marquee showdown Tuesday evening as it faces Cuba (2-0).
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.