Pan American Games
A review of what happened Friday at Rio de Janeiro:
Stylish left-hander Adiel Palma gave up a run, four hits and struck out nine in 7 2/3 innings Friday, pitching Cuba to a 3-1 victory over Team USA and to its 10th consecutive Pan American Games baseball title.
But for the young U.S. team of college freshmen and sophomores, simply reaching the gold-medal game was an accomplishment. The U.S. had three of its games postponed because of field conditions, then had to win a doubleheader over Brazil and eventual bronze-medalist Mexico to get to Friday.
“I was really excited about what they accomplished all through the week,” U.S. Coach Mike Weathers said. “Through all the conditions. Not playing and playing. It’s hard. But I thing they handled it well.”
Cuba got all of its runs off U.S. starter Jacob Thompson of Virginia with two out, scoring twice on Alex Mayeta’s third-inning double and again on Eduardo Paret’s fourth-inning infield single.
Justin Smoak’s two-out single in the fourth drove in the lone U.S. run against the 36-year-old Palma.
“We knew that the odds were going to be against us. I don’t think we really let that get to us though,” said Long Beach State sophomore Danny Espinosa. “Our big leaguers couldn’t beat [Cuba]. A lot of people can’t beat this team. And we should have.
“We know that we can play in any conditions. And this did help that. It’s not going to perfect all the time.”
The U.S. is expected to meet Cuba again in two weeks at the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands.
-- Kevin Baxter
Ty Loomis (Newport Beach) and Hans Stolfus (Costa Mesa) moved into the medals round by sweeping Uruguay’s Nicolas Zanotta and Fabio Dalmas, 25-12, 25-14.
American earned four more gold medals, including the third of the games for Julia Swit of Mount Sinai, N.Y., when she won the 200-meter individual medley. The silver went to Emily Kukors of Auburn, Wash.
In the 200 freestyle, Ava Ohlgren (Northville, Mich.) was the gold medalist. And Caroline Burckle (Louisville, Ky.) won the 800 free.
Among the men, Brazil’s Thiago Pereira won his fourth and fifth golds of the games. He won the 200 individual medley, beating Robert Margalis of Flushing, N.Y. Then Pereira was in the qualifying 400-meter freestyle relay, which earned him gold when other members of the team beat the United States in the final.
Matthew Owen (Scottsdale, Ariz.) swam to gold in the men’s 200 free.
The U.S. women’s team, which already won the world championship, qualified for the 2008 Olympics when it took the gold, 6-4, over Canada. The Americans were undefeated at the Pan American Games. Cuba got the bronze.