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Cuba no-hits South Africa in opener

By John Manuel

Team USA 4, Japan 2

Cuba 16, South Africa 0

SYDNEY—Cuba didn't so much take South Africa lightly as much as it took the first-time Olympians apart.

Cuba, the two-time defending gold-medal champion, took a 16-0 win in seven innings against South Africa, falling a two-out error in the seventh short of a perfect game.

The Cubans, who used their top three starters and perhaps their top arm, settled for the Olympics' first no-hitter. Righthander Norge Luis Vera started and threw five innings, striking out six. Pan American Games hero Jose Contreras, who with Vera is considered Cuba's co-ace, threw an inning in relief, striking out one. Flamethrowing 20-year-old Maels Rodriguez and his 99-mph fastball struck out three in the seventh.

But the bid for a first-ever Olympic perfect game went by the boards when third baseman Gabrielle Pierre, who had entered the game in the seventh as a replacement for star Omar Linares, booted a grounder hit by Ian Holness, South Africa's best hitter.

Cuba rapped 18 hits against three South African pitchers, including three doubles and a triple by second baseman Oscar Macias. Right fielder Miguel Caldes had four hits, including a double, to lead the attack, while second baseman Antonio Pacheco had three hits and a team-high three RBIs. First baseman Antonio Scull also had three RBIs for Cuba, which benefited from four South African errors but still left 11 runners on base.

The Netherlands 6, Australia 4

In the first upset of the Olympic tournament, The Netherlands stunned the host Australians and a vocal home crowd of more than 14,000 with a 6-4 win. The Dutch (1-0), led by Arizona State coach Pat Murphy, weren't considered a medal contender coming into the Games, but beat the favored Aussies with a combination of solid pitching by lefthander Jurriaan Lobbezzoo and power hitting.

Trailing 1-0 after a solo homer by Australian third baseman Paul Gonzalez, The Netherlands took the lead in the third inning with a power barrage against the Aussie ace, former big league righthander Shayne Bennett. Dutch DH Sharnol Adriana, a former Blue Jays farmhand and Mexican Leaguer, drilled a three-run line-drive homer to left field, followed by a double by former big leaguer Hensley "Bam Bam" Meulens that hit off the top of the wall in straightaway center field. Meulens scored on a line-drive double to left by Percy Insenia to give the Dutch a 4-1 lead.

The lead stretched to 6-1 in the sixth against Australian reliever David White with RBI singles by Dirk Van t'Klooster and center fielder Rikkert Faneyte, a former Giant and Ranger. Lobbezoo pitched the first 7 1/3 innings, giving up four runs on seven hits. He was helped along by a pair of Dutch double plays and other nifty plays by The Netherlands' middle-infield combination of one-time major leaguers Robert Eenhoorn and Ralph Milliard.

Australia started to rally in the sixth, scoring a pair on a run-scoring single by former big league all-star David Nilsson and a run-scoring ground out by first baseman Ronny Johnson.

The Aussies scored their final run on an eighth-inning solo homer by right fielder Glenn Reeves. Lefthander Ferenc Jongejan relieved Lobbezzoo and struck out Nilsson to cut Australia's momentum short. Jongejan finished up for the save.

Reeves also had an outfield assist in the game, ending the fifth inning with a double play when he gunned down Faneyte at the plate.

Korea 10, Italy 2

Korea rocked Italy 10-2, outhitting the Italians 11-4. Seok-Jin Park picked up the win with 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief. Starter Sun-Dong Lim gave up both Italian runs, leaving when left fielder Dan DiPace homered to lead off the fourth.

First baseman Ki-Tai Kim went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs to pace a balanced offensive attack for Korea. Catcher Kyong-Oan Park doubled twice and drove in a run as well.

The Italians kept the game close for a while and were down 4-2 heading into the seventh before Korea broke the game open.

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