YOKOHAMA (REUTERS) – The United States will face Japan in baseball’s first Olympic gold-medal game in 13 years after defeating defending champions South Korea 7-2 with a barrage of sixth-inning singles on Thursday (Aug 5).
The title match-up will for the first time feature the two most populous baseball-rabid countries, cementing shifts since the sport last appeared in the Olympics in 2008.
Three-time gold medallists Cuba have lost star power to other countries, failing to make the six-team Games tournament, while Japan have grown ever stronger and the United States found new hunger by adding veterans with nothing to lose to a roster of minor leaguers.
Japan beat both South Korea and the United States on their road to the gold-medal contest, and the United States recorded two wins over the last gold medallists.
Thursday’s loss sends South Korea to the bronze-medal game against the Dominican Republic on Saturday.
South Korea used five different relievers in a momentum-killing sixth inning. They had scored their first run moments before to pull within one at 2-1.
Mark Kolozsvary, Jack Lopez and Tyler Austin slashed run-scoring singles and Eddy Alvarez added another run on a fielder’s choice as the US rally built a commanding 7-1 lead.
Seven of the nine U.S. hits were singles, accounting for most of their runs.
The big exception was Jamie Westbrook’s fourth-inning solo home run, which soared to the second deck of seats that had been added to Yokohama Baseball Stadium for the Games, snapping his 0-for-7 hitting streak.
South Korea starter Lee Eui-lee, 19, struck out nine with confounding breaking pitches that dropped US batters to a knee.
He left the game with his team trailing 2-1.
The loss denies a shot at second consecutive gold medals for South Koreans Kim Hyun-soo, the former Baltimore Orioles outfielder, and Kang Min-ho.
The Korean squad have had some late-inning magic during these Games, scoring a total of 18 runs after the fourth inning.
But on Thursday, that golden rally never came.
Join ST’s Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.
Source: Read Full Article