(ATR) Argentina defeated the United States 5-0 in the men’s softball Grand Final, winning gold at the Compejo Deportivo Villa Maria Del Triunfo in Lima.
Argentina softball had support of fans young and old. (ATR)
Argentina, known as a football nation, now has a reputation in softball, too. Last month the men won the world championship held in Prague.
With their own dedicated section, fans proudly displayed signs infused with the colors of Argentina. The chanted “Vamos a Argentina, tenemos un juego que ganar esta tarde”, "Let’s go Argentina, we have a game to win this afternoon".
Defense was sharp for both teams during the first inning, before Argentina broke through to score twice during the second frame.
Argentina’s defense along with pitcher Huemel Mata, who struck out nine while giving up two hits in going all seven innings, led them to gold.
For Mata, this is his second time at a Pan Am Games after competing in Toronto.
Argentina pitcher Huemel Mata shut down the USA in gold medal game (Lima 2019)
“For me it’s amazing it is incredible too. I am very happy for me...the guys …for all of Argentina it’s just incredible.” Mata said of the gold medal win, adding “I think the United States has a strong team good power in the hitters. So for us it was very difficult to play against USA.”
Mata admitted the cool weather in Lima made it difficult to play during the tournament, “This sport is for summer so it's very difficult for us to play in this condition, but when you play with the heart you will feel hot.”
USA pitcher Duane Weiler, who gave up all five runs and was tagged with the loss in the gold medal game, took the setback in stride.
“This is my first time at the Pan Ams, I wasn’t sure what to expect. It means so much to be playing for your country.”
Joining Argentina and the United States on the podium was Mexico, which secured the bronze medal after losing to the USA earlier in the day.
Through a translator, Mexico’s Edgar Lopez says the team is quite content with their bronze medal because this is the first medal for Mexico in Pan Am softball
Softball has been a Pan Am sport since 1979. Men's softball has never been on the Olympic program; women's softball was dropped from the Olympics in 2008, but it is returning to the 2020 Games. Softball is one of the most popular sports in the Asian Games.
“I believe there will be a spot in the Olympics,” Weiler said. “The competition, the effort, the speed of the game is so fast paced it should be an Olympic sport.”
Written and reported by Greer Wilson in Lima
For general comments or questions, click here.
25 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribers only.