Asian Games: PH Blu Girls’ gold medal bid dented after loss to Japan

FILE– PH Blu Girls. Amateur Softball Association of the Philippines

The Philippine Blu Girls dimmed their chances of advancing to the gold medal match after a 9-2 loss to Japan in six innings as the super round of the Hangzhou Asian Games women’s softball competitions began Friday at Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Center.

While the game ended abruptly due to a seven-run mercy rule, the Blu Girls had their chances of at least tying things up but couldn’t capitalize on opportunities to produce hits with runners in scoring position in the third and fifth innings while trailing 3-2.

Japan subsequently racked up six runs to secure a victory that virtually cemented its place in the final with a 2-0 record in the super round.

The Blu Girls fell to 0-2 and are likely to be relegated in a consolation game for bronze, with Chinese Taipei as their next opponent on Saturday.

Chinese Taipei (0-1) is scheduled to play later in the evening against host China (1-0).

Group stage results against teams that made the super round are included in the win-loss records. The Blu Girls lost 7-0 to China in Group B.

Japan took a 3-0 lead that forced the Philippines to immediately replace starter Mary Ann Antolihao with Royevel Palma, who pitched a one-hit shutout the other day in the super round-clinching win 5-0 win over South Korea.

But the Blu Girls closed the gap to 3-2 in the second inning when Sky Ellazar scored from third on a balk before Charlotte Sales singled to bring home Alaiza Talisik.

The biggest chance came in the top half of the third as Mary Joy Maguad singled before Nicole Hammoude blasted a hit to right field that bounced over the wall, resulting in a ground-rule double that put both runners in scoring position with one out.

Japan pulled out starter Sakura Miwa and put in relief Yukiko Ueno, who responded by striking out Talisik and Cristy Joy Roa to end the side.

Maguad singled with two outs in the fifth, then stole second in the middle of Hammoude’s at-bat to put herself in a position to score with a base hit.

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But Hammoude struck out looking with the full count, and the Blu Girls squandered their final chance to pull off an upset.

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