Dutch Women Softball Team


Olympic Games - Day 19

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Olympic Games - Day 19 - Saturday, August 23
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Day 19: A relaxing day with a surprise

BEIJING (China) - Saturday was a relaxing day for the members of the Dutch Olympic Softball Team. Most of them went into town today to do some shopping, while other remained in the Olympic Village. Some also went to the bronze medal game of the Men's Hockey Team in the evening, but the Dutch squad lost 6-2 to Australia and failed to win an Olympic medal for the first time since 1992 (Barcelona). Later in the evening, Germany won the gold hockey-medal by winning 1-0 vs. Spain.

Today also was the deciding day in the baseball-tournament and that ended in a surprise. In the first game of the day, the USA won 8-4 vs. Japan to win the Bronze Medal. In the evening, there was an exciting and thrilling final between Korea and Cuba. In the ninth inning, with the bases loaded and only one out for Cuba, Korea turned a game-ending double play to win the game 3-2 and capture its first Olympic Baseball Gold Medal, with Cuba having to settle for the Silver Medal. Dutch Umpire Edwin van den Berk was the Reserve Umpire for the final, while Dutchman Jan Esselman was one of three Technical Commissioners and Linda Steijger was one of the three Official Scorers.

Korea set the tone for the game in the first inning. With one out, Yon-Kyu Lee singled, then scored when powerhitter Seung-Yuop Lee hit a homerun with two outs. Cuba reacted with a homerun by Michel Enriquez in its first, but from there Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu dominated. In 8 innings, Ryu struckout seven batters, walked none and gave up only four hits, before being relieved in the ninth. In the first six innings, only two Cuban players reached base. Besided Enriquez hitting a homerun in the first, Alfredo Despaigne doubled with two outs in the fifth at bat. In the seventh inning, Korea added an important insurance run when Jin-Man Park singled with two outs and scored on a double by Yon-Kyu Lee to make it 3-1. The run proved to be important, as Alexei Bell hit a 2-out homerun in the home of the seventh to narrow the deficit to 3-2. In the ninth inning, Cuba threatened to come back after all, as it has done in numerous occassions in previous games and tournaments. But this time, they were left empty-handed. Hector Olivera led off the ninth with a single, then advanced on a sac-bunt by Michel Enriquez. The bases then got loaded when Ryu, who got a great control, walked two batters. After Frederich Cepeda walked, Alexei Bell also got a free pass and this resulted in a reaction by Korean catcher Min-Ho Kang towards Puerto Rican Home Plate Umpire Carlos Rey Cotto. Kang was ejected and was replaced. At the same time, Korea also decided to change pitchers. With the bases loaded Yulieski Gourriel (another powerhitter, whose father Lourdes decided the final of the 1988 World Cup-final in Italy with a walk-off homerun) went after the first pitch he saw, but grounded into a game-ending double play.

With the Korean win, both the baseball and softball-tournament ended in a major upset, as USA was the favorite for the softball-gold and Cuba was the favorite for the baseball-gold. Instead, the Asians dominated, with Japan winning the softball-gold and Korea remaining unbeaten and claiming the baseball-gold. It also underscored the excitement and success of both the baseball and softball tournaments on the Olympic Games in Beijing.

With tonight's game, the Olympic Baseball Tournament ended and its future is now in the hands of the International Olympic Committee. In 2005, but baseball and softball were scrubbed from the Olympic calender. Since then, both sports are working towards reinstatement, hoping to get back into the Olympics for 2012 for which Chicago (USA), Tokyo (Japan), Madrid (Spain) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) are the candidate cities. In October next year, the IOC will decide on the sports for the 2012 Olympics with baseball and softball both being reconsidered, amongst other sports, including rugby and golf.

Also on Saturday, Belgium won its first Gold Medal of these Olympic Games, as Tia Hellebaut was the surprise winner of the Women's High Jump. She went over 2,05 meters in her first attempt, while favorite and reigning indoor and outdoor world champion Blanka Vlasic needed two attempts to go over 2,05 meters. With the win, Hellebaut ended the 38-competition winning streak of Vlasic.

On Saturday-afternoon, in the Czech Republic, the Dutch National Juvenile Softball Team defeated Russia 5-4 in the final of their European Championship to win the title. The team trailed 4-3 in the last inning, then, with a runner on second base, an inside-the-park-homerun decided the game in Dutch favor.

On Sunday, final packing has to be done on the final day of the 29th Olympic Games. Twelve finals are still being scheduled in several sports, then the Games will be concluded with the Closing Ceremony in the National Stadium. On Monday, the Dutch Olympic Team travels back home.

Media Officer and Webmaster Marco Stoovelaar with Jingjing, one of the five Olympic mascots

Lion dancers perform after the third inning of the baseball final

Dutchman Jan Esselman was one of the three Technical Commissioners in the final

Dutch Official Scorer Linda Steijger was one of the three scorers in the final game

An overview of the Wukesong Baseball Stadium where almost 10.000 spectators saw the final

Cuban starter Luis Gonzalez (left) and Korean starter Hyun-Jin Ryu

Dancers perform after the sixth inning

The final out has been made. Korea is Olympic baseball champion!

Spectators cheer, as the Korean team claims the Gold Medal

Players of Korea are being cheered as they run around the stadium

The Lion Dancers perform again before the Victory Ceremony

The medals are being handed to the players during the Victory Ceremony

The flags of Korea, Cuba and the USA are being raised

Korean fans show their support for the golden team

Go back to the schedule of the Olympic Games

For suggestions, questions or requests mail to Media Officer/Webmaster Marco Stoovelaar: stoov@dutchsoftballteam.com

Last Update: August 23, 2008
Copyright Photos © 2008 Marco Stoovelaar.
Copyright Site © 2008 Dutch Women Softball Team.