US hopes win will plant seed
BEIJING - The game mattered for semifinal seedings and pride, nothing more. But Japan and the United States put on an impressive show nonetheless.
Brian Barden singled in the go-ahead run to break a scoreless tie in the 11th inning and the US beat Japan, 4-2, last night to earn the third seed in tomorrow's medal round and a rematch with defending champion Cuba. The Japanese will be No. 4.
"It's like when you clinch the division and know you're going to be in the playoffs," Johnson said. "This game didn't mean a whole lot, except we get to play in the 6 o'clock game rather than the 10:30 game. Six o'clock feels more like a ballgame, and 10:30 feels more like a spring training game."
Barden's single off Hitoki Iwase scored Jason Donald from second. International baseball's new extra-innings rule calls for, beginning in the 11th inning, runners to start on first and second with teams able to start at any point in their batting order.
"I used to be a pitcher myself," Hoshino said. "It was my first experience with the extra-inning rule. I thought they would bunt. This was a mistake, and we learned a very good lesson today."
Nate Schierholtz and Matt Brown followed with RBI singles and John Gall's groundout brought in the other run. Casey Weathers allowed consecutive two-out RBI singles to Atsunori Inaba and Hiroyuki Nakajima, then walked Shuichi Murata before getting pinch hitter Shinnosuke Abe to pop up to end it with the winning run on first.
Japan (4-3) will take on top-seeded South Korea (7-0) in tomorrow's first game, then the Americans (5-2) will face Cuba (6-1) in the night contest.