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ATLANTA 1996 OLYMPICS | Sport-By-Sport Report : BASEBALL

Kotsay Turns Up Power Against Italy

July 25, 1996|From Times Wire Services

Outfielder Mark Kotsay finally got a chance to make his mark in the Olympics.

Kotsay, a former college player of the year at Cal State Fullerton, hit two home runs as the United States defeated Italy, 15-3.

Kotsay, selected by the Florida Marlins with the ninth pick in last June's draft, also had a double and drove in four runs. Kotsay had only a bunt single in the first two games.

"I hit some balls hard and didn't have any hits to show for it," Kotsay said. "Today I focused on swinging easy."

Jason Williams hit the third pitch of the game into the seats for a home run and Kotsay homered two pitches later.

"Back-to-back bombs!" said pitcher R.A. Dickey, who went five innings for the victory. "We just had to get the first one and we knew we'd start rolling. That's what it takes."

Former Fullerton catcher Brian Loyd also homered in the first for the United States (3-0).

Until Williams and Kotsay homered to open the game, the Americans had been wondering where their power went. They averaged nine runs and 2.4 homers a game on their pre-Olympic tour, prompting Coach Skip Bertman to predict the team would live or die by the homer.

The U.S. hit only two homers and scored 11 runs in its first two Olympic games.

Kotsay's two-run homer in the sixth put the U.S. ahead, 15-3, and in position to end the game after seven innings, when the 10-run mercy rule is invoked.

Every U.S. starter reached base at least once and scored at least one run. The Americans batted around twice in the first three innings, helped immeasurably by eight walks. Four Italian pitchers walked 10.

*

Juan Manrique homered twice and Jose Estrada hit a three-run homer as Cuba defeated South Korea, 14-11.

Cuba is 4-0. South Korea was expected to contend for the medal round, but has lost all four games, the only winless team of the eight in the tournament.

Cuba had 20 hits against five pitchers as it built a big lead, then held on when South Korea scored five in the ninth.

Cuba starter Osmany Romero gave up six hits and five runs in five-plus innings.

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