Monday's Olympics: Stewart's walkoff HR lifts US over Japan 2-1 for 5-0 record

Associated Press

Yokohama, Japan — Kelsey Stewart homered leading off the seventh inning, capping a late rally that gave the United States a 2-1 victory Monday over Japan to win the group stage at the Olympics and the right to bat last in the gold medal game.

The U.S. trailed until Valerie Arioto’s RBI single in the sixth.

Stewart hit the Americans’ first homer of the Olympics, a drive just over the glove of leaping right fielder Yuka Ichiguchi that sent U.S. players running onto the field with their second straight walkoff win.

United States team members cheer in the sixth inning of a softball game against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan.

Monica Abbott (3-0) pitched a perfect seventh in her third relief outing to go along with two wins as a starter. The lanky left-hander is likely to start Tuesday’s gold medal game, a day before her 36th birthday.

The Americans, trying to bounce back from their 3-1 loss to Japan in the 2008 gold medal game, finished the group stage 5-0 while Japan dropped to 4-1.

Yamato Fujita (0-1), a 30-year-old right-hander, had pitched just once before in the tournament, the final two innings in Saturday’s 5-0 win over Italy. She allowed four hits, struck out four, walked three and hit two batters, pitching hitless ball until Haylie McCleney singled to left leading off the sixth, making her 9 for 14.

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Janie Reed reached on an infield hit with a bouncer to shortstop for just her second hit in 13 at-bats.

Former UM player Amanda Chidester of Allen Park hit into a force-out that left runners at the corners, just beating the throw, and Arioto grounded a single into left that tied the score.

The U.S. gave 28-year-old right-hander Ally Carda her Olympic mound debut, using Cat Osterman in relief in the sixth, when she struck out both batters she faced, and then Abbott.

Japan rested Yukiko Ueno, the 39-year-old who beat the U.S. in the 2008 gold medal game started by Osterman, and Miu Goto.

Carda, a 28-year-old right-hander, allowed four hits, struck out nine and walked none. She allowed an unearned run in the first after third baseman Kelsey Stewart bobbled Saku Yamazaki’s grounder leading off. Yamazaki reached third on a sacrifice and Hitomii Kawabata’s single, then scored on Aubree Munro’s passed ball.

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Japan’s defense helped with a pair of double plays, including an unusual 3-6-4 combination in which the second baseman covered first base on Spaulding’s bunt in the fifth after Aguilar’s walk.

Fujita and catcher Yukiyo Mine lost track of the outs, starting to run off the field after Michelle Moultrie struck out for the second out of the third.

Skateboarding

Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya of Japan won the first Olympic skateboard competition for women on Monday, giving the host nation a sweep of golds in the street event after Yuto Horigome won the men’s competition.

Momiji Nishiya of Japan reacts after winning the women's street skateboarding finals at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 26, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan.

Rayssa Leal, a Brazilian who is also 13, won the silver, her country’s second in skateboarding after Kelvin Hoefler finished second on Sunday in the men’s event.

The women’s bronze went to Funa Nakayama of Japan.