U.S. Blanks China In World Cup

Friday, July 13th 2007, 7:41 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Tairia Flowers hit a first-inning grand slam, taking advantage of an intentional walk before her, to lead the United States to an 8-0 victory over China in the World Cup of Softball on Friday night.

One batter after Crystl Bustos was walked to load the bases, Flowers hit her first grand slam with the U.S. national team to give the Americans a 4-0 lead. Bustos was walked again _ unintentional, although all four pitches were outside _ as the U.S. (2-0) loaded the bases again and scored four more runs in the second.

Flowers walked to bring in a run, and Andrea Duran made it 8-0 with an RBI single to left field. The game ended after five innings because of the mercy rule.

Bustos also walked on five pitches in the fourth inning. During the at-bat she stretched to foul away a pitch around her ankles, the only swing she took all game.

Natasha Watley singled three times and scored twice, and Cat Osterman (1-0) struck out nine in five innings for the defending champion Americans. China's only hit came when Zhou Yi led off the game by grounding Osterman's first pitch into right field for a single.

Osterman struck out the final seven batters she faced.

China (1-1) had reason to fear Bustos. She set the Olympic record with five home runs in the 2004 Athens Games and had homered in four straight games _ including a two-run shot against Venezuela a day earlier that traveled nearly 300 feet.

In the teams' meeting last year at the World Cup, Bustos had a two-run single as the Americans scored 10 first-inning runs on their way to a 14-0 win. Bustos hit a three-run homer to cap the scoring.

But Flowers had been one of the hottest U.S. hitters coming into this tournament. She was the MVP of the Canada Cup, hitting a team-high .650 (13-for-20) with three home runs and 10 RBIs as the Americans went 10-0 on their way to the title. Following a first-inning intentional walk of Bustos in the World Cup opener, Flowers had a two-run single to give the U.S. the lead for good.

This time, Watley and Jessica Mendoza started the rally with consecutive one-out singles before Zhou Yin (0-1) intentionally walked Bustos. Yin speared Kelly Kretschman's liner back to the circle for the second out and was ahead 0-2 on Flowers before yielding the drive over the left-center field fence.

Flowers got another chance with the bases loaded when second baseman Wu Di mishandled Kretschman's two-out grounder after Bustos' second walk. Flowers walked on five pitches as Yin was much more cautious with her.

Japan 2, Canada 0

Hiroko Sakai and Makiko Fujiwara combined on a two-hitter and Japan scored twice in the third inning without the benefit of a hit.

Leadoff hitter Misato Kawano walked and Ayumi Karino reached on a fielder's choice to start the rally for Japan (2-0), the 2005 World Cup winner, against Robin Mackin (0-1).

The runners moved up on a sacrifice, and a wild pitch by Mackin allowed Satoko Mabuchi to reach after striking out. Kawano scored on an error by left fielder Janiva Willis, and Karino came in on another wild pitch.

Erin McLean singled to left to end a no-hit bid by Sakai (1-0) with two outs in the fifth inning. Danielle Matthews had the only other hit for Canada (2-1).

Fujiwara pitched the final two innings for the save.

Mackin allowed only three hits but walked six in a complete game. She had seven strikeouts.

Canada 7, Venezuela 6

Alison Bradley and Noemie Marin each drove in two runs as Canada built an early seven-run lead and then hung on to win.

Marin's two-run double ended a four-run rally in the first inning for Canada. Bradley had a two-run triple and scored on a passed ball to extend the lead to 7-0 in the second inning.

After a leadoff walk by Yaicey Sojo, Venezuela (0-3) got five straight singles off Canadian starter Katie Rosentroter to begin cutting into the deficit. Sojo's second walk of the inning, against reliever Dione Meier (2-0), pulled Venezuela within 7-5.

Yurubi Alicart led off the fifth with a home run to cut the lead to one, but that was as close as Venezuela got. Mackin pitched 2 2-3 scoreless innings for the save.

Venezuela starter Johana Gomez (0-1) allowed only one hit after the second inning.