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Aussie baseballers in honkbal heaven

If there's anything that makes me immensely patriotic, it's the way we Australians place our imprint on the world stage. It doesn't matter whether it's David Wenham being Faramir, Jimmy Little doing U2 covers, Steve Waugh snubbing GW Bush, or the Puppetry of the Penis simply existing. And then there's the Australian baseballers beating the Japanese Dream Team.

Australia will play in Thursday night's Olympic baseball gold medal game after beating Japan 1-0 in the semi-final. A team of part-timers and US minor leaguers (and occasional major leaguer) against a squad made up entirely of Japanese league professionals. All that could top this would be Huey (or maybe Kylie Kwong or Bill Grainger) being a victorious "Iron Chef Australian".

It was a Brendan Kingman RBI in the top of the sixth that made the difference, with Chris Oxspring the winning pitcher. Jeff Williams, who replaced Oxspring late in the 7th inning, made the save. Here is the play-by-play of the game, and this is how the Sydney Morning Herald report.

Yer out, Stubby!In the other semi, Canada were leading 3-2 at the middle of the eighth. Then Cuba scored six runs. It was a double-RBI single by Ariel Pestano that put the Cubans in front. Final score, 8-5. Here's the play-by-play and CBC's match report.

The ONS summary of semi-final day:

Gold and bronze medal games highlight the last day of competition
ATHENS, 24 August - Canada will play Japan for the bronze medal and Cuba will play Australia for the gold in the final day of the Olympic Baseball Tournament. The bronze game will start at 11:30 and the gold medal matchup will begin at 20:00.


Both teams had golden expectations going into the tournament with Japan bringing its 'Dream Team' of all-stars from the Japan professional league and Canada going undefeated in a pre-Olympic tuneup in Rome.

Now, both will play for the bronze medal. Japan was defeated by Australia in one of the biggest upsets in Olympic baseball history. Despite a dominating performance by Daisuke MATSUZAKA, Japan could not solve Australian pitchers Chris OXSPRING and Jeff WILLIAMS, losing in a 1-0 squeaker.

Canada squandered a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth inning against Cuba, but almost tied the game in the ninth after a Kevin NICHOLSON (CAN) blast barely stayed in the park for the final out.


In an unlikely final, perennial gold medal favourite Cuba takes on Australia. Despite looking shaky early on in the tournament with a close game against seventh place Greece and a loss to Japan, Cuba has rebounded to find itself in a familiar position. Slugging catcher Ariel PESTANO leads the 'Big Red Machine' which has a strong and balanced lineup.

Australia is making its first appearance in the gold medal game. Things are coming together at the right time for the Aussies as their pitching and hitting have kept enough runs off the scoreboard, while putting plenty on it.

Starting pitchers have not yet been announced.

ONS jc/nkl