South Korea, Cuba, the United States and Japan all advanced to the medal round of the Olympic Baseball Tournament in Beijing.
Everyone played to win, but when it was over they explained that there are no bad medals.
“It may be bronze, but it feels like gold,” Team USA’s Matt LaPorta said. “It didn't really sink in until I was up on stage and they put the medal around my neck. I’m going to remember this for the rest of my life.
“It was a huge honor just being here with the best players,” LaPorta continued. “What South Korea did (finishing 9-0 in the tournament and winning the gold) was amazing because there were so many great teams here. To be able to win every game against this competition is special.”
The great Hyunjin Ryu won the gold medal game for South Korea.
“Our goal was to win the gold,” Ryu said, “but mostly we just wanted to come here and compete well. I was nervous in the ninth inning, but it worked out for us against a great team.”
Cuba had their best player – and one of the best players in the world – Yuliesky Gourriel at the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth, but a double play ended their chance to repeat as Olympic champions.
Legendary Cuban pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo wore a prideful smile and his fourth Olympic medal (two silvers and two golds) when it was over.
“Silver is a fine medal,” Lazo said. “We fought hard and that makes it a good medal.”