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Cuba Powers Its Way Past Japan, 6-2

September 25, 2000|From Times Wire Services

Orestes Kindelan hit a three-run home run as the Cuban baseball team clinched the top seed for medal-round play by beating Japan, 6-2, Sunday in Blacktown, Australia.

The two teams will meet again in the first round of medal play Tuesday.

Kindelan, Cuba's top power hitter, singled home a run in the third inning and hit a three-run homer in the fourth, his second of the tournament.

Danel Castro also had an RBI single and Antonio Scull tripled and scored on Juan Manrique's single as Cuba pulled away. Omar Linares went three for four.

After taking their first loss in Olympic baseball after 21 wins on Wednesday, the Cubans (6-1) finished strong, beating Australia, the United States and Japan.

Cuba used three pitchers, none for more than 3 1/3 innings, as it rested its staff for the medal round. Japan used four pitchers--none for more than three innings each.

FIELD HOCKEY: Argentina upset the Netherlands--the 2000 women's Championship Trophy winners--3-1, forging a three-way tie for fourth place. Luciana Aymar intercepted a Dutch clearing pass and opened the scoring for Argentina (1-2-0) in the fourth minute.

In other medal pool games, China and Spain played to a scoreless tie and Australia beat New Zealand, 3-0.

In men's action, Canada and Britain tied, 1-1, and South Korea beat Poland, 3-2.

BOXING: The schedule may read heavyweight quarterfinal, with the winner guaranteed nothing more than a bronze. But when the two star attractions of Olympic boxing meet Tuesday, it figures to be bigger than any gold medal fight.

Michael Bennett will not just carry his medal hopes into the ring against Cuba's fearsome Felix Savon. Riding on his broad shoulders may be the hopes of the U.S. boxing team.

"It's critical," U.S. Coach Tom Mustin said.

The fight matches an inexperienced but talented 29-year-old Bennett against the aging but powerful two-time Olympic and six-time world champion Savon.

It's a fight loaded with risk for Mustin's team. The Americans have yet to show they can beat the Cubans, who have dominated amateur boxing for much of the last quarter century.

Bennett will be the first American to fight a Cuban in Sydney, and it could set a tone for the six other remaining U.S. boxers who may face Cubans in either semifinal or gold medal fights. In the last two Olympics, Americans are 2-7 against Cuban boxers.

"We've got to go see if we can steal a win," Mustin said.

Bennett's role as the critical peg of the U.S. team could not be a more unlikely one considering he was serving time in an Illinois prison for armed robbery during the last Olympics.

Now, he has his own Web site and publicist. If he wins the heavyweight gold, he could be worth millions.

Bennett has had fewer than 40 fights since his release from prison in July 1998, but was such a quick learner that he won a U.S. championship and fought his way into the finals of the 1999 world championship.

It was there that he was supposed to meet Savon the first time. But the Cuban boycotted the bout as part of a Cuban protest over scoring in another fight and Bennett was given the world title.

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