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Olympic Roundup: Bustos, U.S. softball close to gold

Associated Press
The Olympic roundup …
BEIJING ó For the U.S. softball team, there’s one more game for gold, and then one last goodbye.
The Americans are marching toward their fourth straight gold medal in the sport’s swan song at the Olympics for at least eight years.
Throughout these games, the U.S. had been routing one nation after another ó hardly breaking a sweat ó until Wednesday.
Japan pushed them to extra innings before the U.S. scored four runs in the ninth to win 4-1, earning the spot in the gold medal game.
Their star, once again, was Crystl Bustos, who hit a three-run homer that nearly cleared the left-field bleachers at Fengtai Field, to put the finishing touches on a Japanese team that gave this American-made scoring machine all it could handle.
“One win away,” said U.S. center fielder Caitlin Lowe.
And the U.S. will have to beat Japan again to get it. The Japanese beat Australia 4-3 in 12 innings to advance, leaving the Aussies with the bronze.
The Americans had won their first seven games in Beijing by a combined 53-1 and came in batting .377 as a team to their opponents’ .042.
Baseball
The guys went to extra innings against Japan, too, and also pulled out a win. Brian Barden singled in the go-ahead run to break a scoreless tie in the 11th inning on the way to a 4-2 victory. The Americans earned the third seed in Friday’s medal round, with the Japanese getting fourth.
The U.S. will play defending champion Cuba, while Japan will take on South Korea. the only undefeated team.
Cycling
Remember the spark snowboard cross put into the Winter Games in Turin? Maybe bicycle motorcross ó BMX, to those in the know ó will do the same.
American racers Mike Day and Kyle Bennett gave the crowd a great introduction to the sport, with Day winning the time trial and each of his three quarterfinal heats and Bennett advancing but also dislocating his left shoulder in a wreck on his final heat.
Top-ranked racer Donny Robinson also moved on, as did Jill Kintner, the lone American in the 16-racer women’s field, who is competing despite a shredded knee ligament.
Wrestling
Ben Askren has to be thinking, “I cut my hair for this?”
The bushy-haired former NCAA champion who promised a gold medal lost in freestyle’s 74-kilogram round of 16, ending his Olympics after two matches.
Taekwondo
Mexico’s Guillermo Perez has a gold medal. And Afghanistan now has a medal, period.
Men’s volleyball
The U.S. men beat Serbia, remaining undefeated and earning a spot in the semifinals against Russia.
Men’s water polo
The U.S. squad knows who it will be playing in the semifinals: Serbia. The other semi will pit reigning European champs Montenegro against two-time defending Olympic gold medalist Hungary.
Kayak
American Rami Zur failed to qualify for the finals of the men’s 1,000-meter single kayak (K-1).
Men’s beach volleyball
The stunning loss in the tournament opener seems like ancient history for Phil Dalhausser and Todd Rogers, especially now that the Americans are playing for the gold medal.
The guys needed only 41 minutes to eliminate Georgia in straight sets in the semifinals.
Women’s field hockey
The U.S. had a chance to finish seventh. It didn’t happen.
At least it took two extra periods before Spain beat the Americans. The tournament was a total loss, though, as the ladies beat New Zealand and had draws with world No. 2 Argentina, Japan and Britain.
Table tennis
All three members of the Chinese squad advanced easily in women’s singles competition, especially Zhang Yining, the defending gold medalist and top-ranked player in the world.
Two U.S. players ó Gao Jun and Wang Chen ó also stayed alive.
Men’s handball
Croatia’s gold-medal defense reached the semifinals with a victory over Denmark. The Croats will next play the French, who beat Russia.
Iceland will play Spain in the other semifinal. Iceland defeated Poland and Spain beat South Korea.
Synchronized swimming
The Americans were fifth.

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