Aug. 14, 2003
SANTO DOMINGO , D.R. - In front of a standing room only crowd, the USA Softball Women's National team advanced to the gold medal game after a two out, top of the seventh hit by former Bruin Stacey Nuveman scored a run to give the U.S. a 2-1 victory over the Dominican Republic. The two-time Olympic gold medalist Team USA moved to 8-0 in the tournament. The one run allowed by the U.S. was its first in Pan Am play since August 2, 1999 when the U.S. defeated Colombia 8-1.
The U.S held the lead at 1-0 through the fourth thanks to a Lovieanne Jung solo homerun to left field in the top of the second inning. But the Dominican Republic tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the fourth after Flor Daliza Florian singled to third base and designated player Geovanny Nunez ripped a double to right center plating Florian. But starting pitcher Jennie Finch, who retired 15 batters via strikeout, remained solid in the circle retiring the side with three strikeouts leaving Nunez stranded heading into the fifth.
After a lead-off Natasha Watley base hit to left center in the fifth, the U.S. offense looked to shift the momentum of the game. Leah O'Brien-Amico advanced Watley into scoring position after a successful sacrifice bunt to the third baseman. An intentional walk to Crystl Bustos and a walk to Lisa Fernandez loaded the bases, but the U.S. failed to capitalize after a line drive to third base from Jung ended the half inning.
The Dominican Republic then saw the possible winning run at first base in the bottom of the sixth after a fielding error by Bustos, but Finch and the U.S. defense responded strong with three straight outs to send the game into the seventh.
In the top of the seventh, back-to-back fly outs to centerfield Bustos sent a high fly ball to centerfield in what looked like the third out of the inning. But a fielding error by centerfielder De La Rosa allowed Bustos to reach third base with two outs. Stacey Nuveman then became the hero knocking a 1-1 pitch to centerfield plating Bustos for the 2-1 lead.
Needing just three outs to advance to its seventh consecutive Pan American gold medal game, Finch took care of business striking out the side to end the game. The win put Finch at 2-0 in the Pan Ams while Amico led the U.S. going 2-for-3.
"We are still in the growing process with this team," head coach Mike Candreasaid. "We have to be more disciplined. We have a nice nucleus to this team, but they are still young. These games are very valuable to us with the crowd and environment because this is what it is going to be like from now until Athens ."
Attempting to take home its fifth consecutive Pan American gold medal, the U.S. Women will battle the winner of the Canada/Dominican Republic bronze medal game in the gold medal game at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, August 14.