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Sept. 17
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Japan tops Italy; Australia survives scare from South Africa

By John Manuel

Team USA 4, Korea 0
The Netherlands 4, Cuba 2

Japan 6, Italy 1

In a game in which both teams had plenty of chances, Japan (3-1) tied Cuba for second place in the round-robin by handling Italy 6-1 at Blacktown Ballpark. The Japanese left 12 runners on base in the game but pounded 12 hits off three Italian pitchers.

Once again, Japan's big leaguers led the way offensively. First baseman Yukio Tanaka paced Japan's attack with a solo homer and three hits, scoring three runs. Catcher Fumihiro Suzuki had two hits and an RBI, while left fielder So Taguchi had a pair of doubles and scored a run. Third baseman Norihiro Nakamura, the team's cleanup hitter, had three walks, and also had a two-run double in the fifth inning to help Japan push out to a comfortable 4-1 lead.

The Italians (1-3) had their chances, leaving 13 men on base. Italy's lone run came when former Mariners farmhand Claudio Liverziani doubled to open the bottom of the first, went to third on a single and stole home on the front end of a double steal.

Italy was unable to take advantage of the wildness of Japan's four pitchers, who walked six. Shunsuke Watanabe got the win for Japan with 3 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, giving up just one hit.

Australia 10, South Africa 4

Coming into the game having been outscored 40-1, South Africa wasn't expected to compete with Australia at Blacktown. But as the pressing host's struggles continued, they had to sweat out even a game with the tournament's weakest team.

In a game that was tied 1-1 going into the fifth, Australia (2-2) broke out with a four-run sixth, then put it away with four more in the eighth for a 10-4 win. Australia had 10 hits to back up five solid innings by 41-year-old Adrian Meagher. Mike Nakamura (Twins) pitched three innings of relief to hold what was a 5-3 lead until the Aussies could break it open.

Clayton Byrne had two hits and an RBI for the Aussies, who had seven different players with an RBI and nine players with hits. Pinch-hitter Brett Roneberg's two-run single in the eighth salted away Australia's second victory.

South Africa (0-4) center fielder Jason Cook had the team's first Olympic homer, a solo shot in the eighth, and three RBIs. First baseman Nick Dempsey had his second RBI of the tournament, and Cook, Dempsey and right fielder Ian Holness had two hits apiece.

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