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Men : Japan defeats Italy 12-0 in Olympic opener 15 Aug. 2004



ATHENS, 15 August - Japan made an impressive start to its gold medal aspirations with a 12-0 defeat of Italy at the Olympic Baseball Centre today.


Japan's powerful lineup of professionals, smacking 13 hits, scored in six of the seven innings, when the game was halted. If a team is leading by more than 10 runs after seven innings, play is stopped and ruled a complete game, according to Olympic competition rules.


Third baseman Norihiro NAKAMURA (JPN) and led Japan's hit parade, collecting two hits and four RBIs, including a two-run shot in the third inning.


Starting pitcher Koji UEHARA, a star with Japan's Yomiuri Giants, threw six scoreless innings for the win, giving up four hits and one walk while striking out four.


Losing pitcher Anthony MASSIMINO (ITA) bore the brunt of Japan's hitting onslaught, though the Italian defence didn't help.


The pitcher was beat up for seven hits and seven runs, before departing in the fourth inning. Two of MASSIMINO's five runs were due to sloppy play in the field.


Japan next plays the Netherlands in the preliminary round. Italy faces off against Canada.



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Men : Comments from Game 2 - ITA v JPN 15 Aug. 2004



ATHENS, 15 August - Comments from NAKAHATA (JPN), TAKAHASHI (JPN) and UEHARA (JPN).


Kiyoshi NAKAHATA (JPN) - manager


On the team's performance:


"When we scored our second run, it boosted our confidence and helped us get into a rhythm. But we were nervous about the first game."


"The team was able to stay focussed throughout the game. We're taking it one game at a time. There will always be a tough game ahead."


Yoshinobu TAKAHASHI (JPN) - centerfielder


"I was nervous coming into the game after the Japanese softball team lost to Australia yesterday. Instead, it pumped us up even more."


'We won today, which is great. But there are eight games to go and we are not satisfied only with this win."


Koji UEHARA (JPN) - winning pitcher


On the team's win:


"The first game was important for me but more important for the team."


On his performance:


"I was really satisfied with keeping Italy scoreless."


On his strategy:


"The catcher and I were able to adapt to the style of international baseball and the umpire. We were quite confident and had good tactics for the game."


On the team's batting support:


"Usually I give up some runs early, but I had a lot of support from the team."


ONS yk/dr/sek

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Men : ITA vs. JPN: Comments from FARAONE (ITA), LIVERZIANI (ITA) 15 Aug. 2004


ATHENS, 15 August - Comments from the mixed zone.


Giampiero FARAONE (ITA) - team manager


On team's performance:


"Japan was simply a 'dream team'. We wanted to impress but we weren't able to do it. We were scared of the opponent's fame."


On team's MVP:


"Actually nobody. They were all timid."


On next game:


"We are hoping to play a team we can match. We expect to win in the next game."


Claudio LIVERZIANI (ITA) - first base


On the game:


"We played dreadfully. The opponents are very strong and are favourites for Gold."


On next game:


"I hope we do better at next game."


ONS mp/nl/gg

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Men : Cuba defeats Australia 4-1 15 Aug. 2004


ATHENS, 15 August ? Medal favourite Cuba started off the Olympic Baseball tournament on the right foot, defeating Australia 4-1 at the Olympic Baseball Centre in the Helliniko Olympic Complex today.


Cuba pitcher, Adiel PALMA, who was making his Olympic debut, was almost untouchable as he pitched eight shut out innings of baseball to pick up the win, giving up just two hits.


Australian pitcher, Craig ANDERSON, was solid in seven innings of work, but was let down by the Australian defence which committed three errors, making two of the four Cuba runs unearned.


Cuba started off the game with a bang as Michael ENRIQUEZ, the second Cuban batter in the lineup, crunched a solo home run to the opposite field to give his side a 1-0 lead.


The winning run came in the third when Osmani URRUTIA (CUB) singled home team mate Yulieski GOURRIEL to put Cuba up for good. URRUTIA finished with three hits in four at bats, including a solo home run in the sixth inning.


Australia mounted a small comeback in the top of the ninth inning when pinch hitter Andrew UTTING (AUS) singled home short stop Rodney van BUIZEN (AUS) off Cuban relief pitcher Pedro Luis LAZO.


LAZO, the losing pitcher of the gold medal game in Sydney, then gave up a single to Glenn WILLIAMS (AUS), which brought the tying run to the plate in the form of designated hitter Craig LEWIS (AUS).


LAZO was then replaced in favour of Jonder MARTINEZ (CUB), who got LEWIS out on a fielder?s choice play at second base to secure the victory.


ONS jc/ct/pjg

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