I had the pleasure of being at the Sydney Showground in November 1999 to see Australia beat Cuba in the semi-final of that year's International Cup. There was no repeat on Sunday when the two met in their opening game of the 2004 olympic baseball competition. Cuba beat Australia 4-1. The rest of the opening day's games were fairly one-sided.
This is the wrap of the first day of the Olympic Baseball issued by the Olympic News Service on Sunday night. I've added the links to Baseball-Reference.com where available:
First day of competition sees little parity 15 Aug. 2004
ATHENS, 15 August - Japan, Cuba, Canada and the Netherlands notched wins on the first day of preliminary competition at the Olympic Baseball tournament.
In his Olympic debut, Cuban pitcher Adiel PALMA was nearly untouchable, pitching 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, crushed 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.
In the second game of the day, Japan made an impressive start to its gold medal aspirations with a 12-0 defeat of Italy.
Japan's powerful lineup of professionals smacked 13 hits, and 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.
The night session featured strong winds and two blowouts as both Canada and the Netherlands were easy victors against Chinese Taipei and Greece.
In the Canada vs. Chinese Taipei game, the winds from the outfield made it difficult for both teams to find both offensive and defensive rhythms early, yet Canada found a way to strike first in the second inning.
Three errors by Taipei led to two Canadian runs, both coming on a line drive single by Richard CLAPP. Taipei committed four errors for the game.
Starter Chih Chia CHANG (TPE) of the Seibu Lions from the Japanese professional leagues pitched well for Taipei, giving up three runs, only one earned and striking out nine batters in six innings of work.
Tapei was able to keep it close at 3-0 until the seventh inning when Canada teed off on Taipei relief pitcher Ying Chieh LIN (TPE) for four runs in only 1 1/3 innings. Canada then cruised to the 7-0 victory.
In the second game of the evening session, the Netherlands used stellar pitching and two big innings to pick up the victory.
A three-run home run by Yurrendal de CASTER highlighted a monster fourth inning for the Netherlands in which they scored six runs. The Dutch also added five in the ninth to cap off an 11-0 victory.
Calvin MADURO (NED) picked up the win and combined with Ferenc JONGJEAN (NED) and Dave DRAIJER (NED) for a two-hit shutout. Clinton ZAVARAS (GRE) whose first U.S. major league's start came against Nolan RYAN, was the losing pitcher of record.