RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL— Cuba’s Adiel Palma struck out 19 over two starts at the Pan American Games, including nine Americans on Friday morning, to lead Cuba (4-1 Pan Am) to a 3-1 win and gold medal over Team USA (15-6, 4-1 Pan Am).
Palma gave up just four hits over eight and two-thirds, as Cuba won its 12th gold medal since the start of the games in 1951, while Team USA won their ninth silver medal. Palma retired the final eight batters he faced, facing just three over the minimum.
“It was a tough loss, but I thought we played well,” said Manager Mike Weathers, who has won three silver medals against Cuba, as a player (1970), assistant (2003) and manager (2007). “ We couldn’t solve their pitching. Both teams played very well. We should be very proud to win a silver medal. We overcame a lot and accomplished many things. These guys will take home a lot of memories.”
Closer Pedro Lazo struck out three in a row, before Pedro Alvarez (Vanderbilt) came through with a two-out base hit in the ninth. Justin Smoak (South Carolina) then flew out to center to end the contest.
Jordan Danks (Texas) broke up Palma’s perfect game to lead off the fourth inning after the U.S. trailed 3-0. Danks scored on a two-out single by Smoak to cut the lead to 3-1.
A two-out double by Alex Mayeta in the third gave the Cubans an early 2-0 lead. A two-out infield single in the fourth plated another run to give Cuba a 3-0 advantage.
American starter Jacob Thompson (1-2, Virginia) last just the first four innings, giving up three runs on seven hits, surrendering his first earned runs of the summer. Four U.S. pitchers did not allow a run the rest of the way.
U.S. PAN AMERICAN NOTES
Team USA won their only gold medal in 1967 in Canada and have medaled in 16 of 18 games… Team USA came into the final game batting .303 as a team in Brazil, managing just five hits in the final game.
The Americans return to the U.S. later today as they begin a five-game series with China starting on July 22 and 24 in Mobile, AL… Team USA will then head North to Birmingham, Rome, GA and Ft. Mill, SC before finishing off the nine-game American trip with the Netherlands and Russia in North Carolina… the team closes out their schedule at the World Port Tournament in the Netherlands starting on August 2… Mexico and Nicaragua were awarded dual bronze medals, not playing the consolation game.