YOKOHAMA, Japan — The Dominican Republic's baseball team will head to Saturday's bronze-medal game after falling 3-1 on Wednesday to the United States, which earned a chance to punch an upgrade to the gold-medal contest.
The U.S. squad now face the loser of Wednesday's game between Japan and South Korea in a tussle on Thursday to decide which of them will go to the gold medal game instead of the one for bronze. The winner in the Japan-South Korea contest claims the other spot in the championship finale.
In the Dominican Republic game, U.S. first baseman Triston Casas smacked his third Games' home run. The two-run blast came off Boston Red Sox minor league team mate and Dominican starter Denyi Reyes.
Casas also homered in his one previous at-bat against Reyes, which came during a Red Sox scrimmage last spring - and which the slugger proved by showing Reuters a video on his phone.
Success at the Games emanates from a focus on winning, Casas said.
"At the end of tournament, no one's going to remember how many homers I hit," he said. "It's just whether we came home with that gold."
After exhibition loss, women's basketball rolls over Australia
Team USA rolled over Australia in Olympic women's basketball on Wednesday, putting them on a semifinal collision course with a tough Serbian team that rallied to beat China.
Like the U.S. men's team on Tuesday, the American women sailed into the next stage with a 76-55 win in the Saitama Super Arena, north of Tokyo. The U.S. were undefeated through the tournament stage, while Australia edged other third-place finishers to make it to the knockout stage.
"We're happy that we played well," said team captain Sue Bird, now playing in her fifth Olympics. "I think all of us will go to sleep tonight feeling good in terms of the trajectory we're on. But that doesn't mean anything for the semis."
"All of us who played overseas, you always had a Serb on your team," Bird said about their opponents in the next round on Friday. "They just know how to ball out. They know how to play basketball."
Team USA had previously lost to Australia 70-67 in a pre-Olympic tune-up game in July.
Women's volleyball cruises to semis
Top-ranked United States crushed the Dominican Republic in straight sets on Wednesday to reach the women's Olympic volleyball semi-finals, while South Korea stunned Turkey in a thrilling full-set match, securing a spot in the top four.
U.S. opposite Andrea Drews scored 21 points to lead the team to a comprehensive quarter-final victory over the Caribbean side at Tokyo's Ariake Arena, with the 2016 bronze medallists winning 25-11 25-20 25-19.
Drews was supported at the net by Michelle Bartsch-Hackley, who had 13 points, while Haleigh Washington added 10.
Injured ace spiker Jordan Thompson, who sprained her ankle on Saturday, came back on the bench, but was not brought on as a substitute.
"I felt confident coming in this match because of our team," Drews said. "I think a big focus on our side is staying disciplined with the plans that we make," she said when asked about the plan for the next stage on Friday.