TEAM USA RALLIES IN SIXTH TO CAPTURE GOLD AGAINST JAPAN

August 6, 2006

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  • TAIPEI, Taiwan --- Outfielder Tamara Holmes (Albany, CA) broke a 10-10 tie with a one-out, bases-loaded double down the left-field line in the bottom of the sixth as Team USA went on to defeat Japan, 13-11 Sunday at Tienmu Baseball Stadium. The win gave Team USA (5-1) its second consecutive gold medal at the IBAF Women's World Cup.

    Team USA rebounded from Japan's eight-run rally in the fifth to load the bases for Holmes on a pair of singles by Bridget Venturi-Veneema (Deerfield, IL) and Jane Uh (Riverside, CA) and a walk by Donna Mills (Lynn, MA).

    "I came up to the plate confident," said Holmes. "I saw before my at-bat that the pitcher [Risa Nakashima] was bringing the strike zone down. I figured that I was going to see a strike and I choked up on the bat and waited for one."

    Holmes, who struggled offensively during the tournament, (4 for 20), had her best performance of the week, going 2 for 4 with four RBI and a run scored.

    "It crossed my mind to squeeze," said Team USA manager Julie Croteau, "but I knew Tamara had the power to turn this game on a dime. I had a lot of confidence in her ability to come through in a close situation. She was definitely worth waiting for."

    The Team USA offense started early, pouring in 10 runs in the first three innings. USA loaded the bases in the first and second innings for Mills, whose clutch hits drove in four of the team's first five runs. In the bottom of the third, Team USA rallied for five runs, highlighted by Venturi-Veneema's three-run gap double and shortstop Keri Lemasters' (Santa Clarita, CA) RBI single.

    However, Japan erased the lead, putting together 10 runs in two innings. Following Ayumi Ota's two-run double in the fourth, Team USA issued seven walks and hit two batters in the fifth. Kazumi Morii had the lone hit of the inning, a two-run single to center. Reliever Trista Russo (Galway, NY), the fourth pitcher of the inning, looked to have the team out of the jam with an apparent double-play grounder to second but Team USA was unable to complete the play allowing Japan to tie the game.

    Japan would score again in the top of the seventh on a one-out, RBI-single, but Russo struck out Yui Oyama and Tomomi Takashima grounded out to first to end the game.

    Russo earned the win to improve to 1-0 after holding Japan to a run on three hits while striking out two and walking two in 2.2 innings.

    Team USA starter Jennifer Hunter (Tarpon Springs, FL) pitched three scoreless innings before giving up a pair of runs in the top of the fourth. Hunter scattered just four hits and struck out one in the no-decision.

    "Jen Hunter did a tremendous job in this tournament and Trista did a great job of coming in and throwing strikes to keep us in the game," said Croteau.

    Mills was 2 for 3 with four RBI and two runs scored while Venturi-Veneema also drove the offense, batting 3 for 3 with three RBI.

    "Donna is my choice for MVP of this tournament," said Croteau. "Each time we had a runner at second with Donna at the plate, they were as good as scored."

    Mills led the team with a .474 (9 for 19) average, nine hits and 13 RBI. She was tied for first with three doubles and did not commit an error defensively.

    "I'm extremely proud of our athletes," said Croteau. "I knew we had a fantastic team of seasoned veterans and future superstars. There is a lot of parity at the international level and I look forward to the teams these countries will field in the future."

    JPN 000 280 1 -- 11 8 3
    USA 325 003 x -- 13 12 1

    WP: Russo (USA), 1-0; LP: Nakashima (JPN), 1-1

    Records: USA 5-1; JPN, 4-2