Sunday, September 24|
Rauch whiffs 13 in seven innings for U.S.
SYDNEY, Australia -- The tallest player in professional
baseball had little trouble with Olympic baseball's puniest
Six-foot-11 Jon Rauch struck out 13 in seven innings and John
Cotton drove in five runs Monday as the unbeaten United States
rolled to an 11-1 victory over winless South Africa.
The 10-run mercy rule kicked in after South Africa batted in the
seventh, pre-empting the seventh-inning stretch and more strikeouts
by Rauch, a third-round draft pick of the Chicago White Sox last
His total was the second-highest by a U.S. pitcher in the
Olympics, trailing B.J. Wallace's 14 against Italy in Barcelona in
"He's huge and very intimidating," said South Africa reliever
Ashley Dove, who stopped to get manager Tom Lasorda's autograph on
a baseball after the game. "He throws in the mid-90s, which is
something we're not used to. In time, we'll get used to it."
Rauch towered over a team that couldn't even get a hit in its
Olympic baseball debut. The South Africans managed only one
baserunner -- on an error -- in a 16-0 drubbing by the Cubans a day
They scored this time, getting to Rauch in the first for a brief
lead that pumped up the bench. Rauch then settled down and the
United States ground them down.
"It's outstanding," Rauch said, his eyes widening. "I'm
thrilled. I'm on cloud nine."
Rauch, a right-hander, accentuates his height by hiking his
pants legs to just below the knees and overpowers hitters with a
fastball that tops 90 mph.
He got all those strikeouts -- including four in the fifth
inning, when a batter missed a wild pitch in the dirt and made it
safely to first -- even though his fastball was a little slow by his
"I've seen him throw the ball in the bullpen around 97 mph,"
Lasorda said. "I think tonight he was throwing around 93 or 94
"In a couple of years, this guy's going to be a hell of a
Cotton had a two-run double, two-run single and run-scoring
A day after their pulsating, 13-inning win over Japan in their
opener at the main Olympic baseball stadium, the Americans (2-0)
hit the road for a more relaxed atmosphere and much easier time.
The main ballpark is comparable to the best in Triple-A, plopped
in the heart of the main Olympic venue, a short distance from the
By contrast, the Americans played Game 2 at the secondary
stadium carved on the edge of an Aboriginal heritage land on the
outskirts of the city, much closer to the bush than the bay. Snakes
have been cited outside the bleachered stadium, and a sign outside
cautions: "Magpie Breeding Area, Birds May Swoop."
There was no swooping, though one magpie wandered into the
outfield briefly between innings.
The ballpark probably reminded the Americans of their days in
rookie ball and spring training. The caliber of play matched the
The United States set up South Africa's first-ever Olympic run
with an error. Ian Holness lined a single to left -- South Africa's
first, drawing a collective "Yea!" from the dugout -- and
continued to second when Mike Neill bobbled the ball.
The South Africans spilled out of the dugout, whooping with arms
raised in celebration after Nick Dempsey -- the biggest player on
the team at 6-foot-8 and 238 pounds -- singled to center for a run.
The lead evaporated as soon as the United States started
batting. Cotton had a two-run double in the bottom of the inning
and the Americans took control with five more runs in a second
inning extended by misplays.
The low point came when starter Liall Mauritz threw a
run-scoring wild pitch that sailed over the mitt of the leaping
catcher and thumped the backstop. Mauritz gave an embarrassed smile
when the catcher came out to chat about it.
Neill, whose two-run homer ended the longest game in Olympic
baseball history on Sunday, hit a solo homer in the sixth for the
The game was delayed briefly in the top of the fifth when a
reporter tumbled backward while stretching for a foul ball behind
home plate, twisting his knee and gashing his face. He was treated
in the stands and hobbled out with assistance.
|Jon Rauch's bid for an Olympic record was cut short by the 10-run rule.|
U.S. beats Japan in 13 on Neill's two-run homer