UCLA's Amanda Freed Scores Game-Winner as USA Defeats Japan, 3-0
Aug. 16, 2004
ATHENS - Former Bruins Amanda Freed, Stacey Nuveman and Natasha Watley figured prominently in Team USA's three-run eighth-inning rally as the Americans defeated Japan, 3-0, to remain perfect in preliminary round action at the Olympic Games. Freed scored the game-winning run, Nuveman provided a sacrifice bunt in the eighth and Watley drove in the third and final run of the inning in the U.S. victory. Team USA is the only one of the eight teams in the tournament without a loss through the first three days of competition.A rematch of the 2000 gold medal game, this marked the first time in the last six outings that the game was decided by more than one run and the fourth time the game had been decided in extra innings.The battery of pitcher Cat Osterman and catcher Stacey Nuveman recorded 11 strikeouts in the game, allowing just one hit and one walk in the game. Japan's starting pitcher was equally impressive, holding the U.S. hitless through seven innings.With chants of `USA' echoing throughout the stadium the tides changed as the international tie breaker rule was put into effect in the top of the eighth. This rule allows the last batter out from the previous inning to be placed on second base. Pinch- runner Amanda Freed (Cypress, CA) entered for the U.S. at second base before a successful sacrifice bunt from Stacey Nuveman (La Verne, CA) placed Freed at third with one out.An incredible at-bat that included 17 pitches, Lovieanne Jung battled Takayama before being issued a walk to put runners on the corners. Jung's at-bat was actually extended when Japan third baseman Reika Utsugi failed to make a routine play on a foul ball due to the bright sunlight.Coming through in the clutch, Kelly Kretschman drove a sacrifice fly to centerfield to plate Freed and give the U.S. the run it needed. With the momentum in its favor, the U.S. added two insurance runs for the eventual 3-0 win.Jessica Mendoza stepped up with a base hit up the middle before Jenny Topping was called up as a pinch-hitter. In her first at-bat in Olympic competition, she responded like a veteran driving her second pitch to right field for a base hit before a fielding error from Japanese right fielder Yumi Iwabuchi scored Jung for the 2-0 advantage.Lead-off hitter Natasha Watley (Irvine, CA), batting .600 in the Games, beat out an infield RBI single to score Mendoza to secure the 3-0 U.S. victory.The U.S. remains as the only unbeaten in Olympic competition has completed three games without allowing a run. The win extends the U.S. wins streak to 73 games in which it has outscored its opposition 621-17.Continuing round-robin play, the U.S. will continue its journey towards a third gold medal on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. (Athens time) when it takes the field against 1996 silver medalists China.The game will air at 11:30 pm Pacific Time, Monday night, on MSNBC.