First baseman Tino Martinez had been hitting nothing but...


SEOUL, South Korea -- First baseman Tino Martinez had been hitting nothing but singles all week. On Wednesday, he wanted to change his luck.

He put on his University of Tampa T-shirt, threw away his dirty socks, changed his blue belt for a red one and pulled on the stirrups he wore at last year's Pan American Games that his mother had brought to Seoul for him.


Then he went out and hit two home runs and a single in four at-bats, driving in four runs to lead the U.S. Olympic baseball team to a 5-3 victory over Japan and a gold medal in the demonstration event.

'All week I've been hitting singles and I was thinking, 'Maybe I'm bound to explode,'' said Martinez, 20, who will report to the Seattle Mariners after a post-Olympic rest. 'I just put a lot of things on today for luck.'


Jim Abbott, who does not have a right hand, pitched a seven-hitter. He struck out four and walked three.

The United States, which lost 6-3 to Japan in the title game at the 1984 Olympics, will be the defending champion when baseball becomes a full Olympic medal sport at Barcelona in 1992.

Earlier, Puerto Rico won the bronze medal, blanking South Korea 7-0 behind the four-hit pitching of Jesus Feliciano.

The victory by the Americans culminated their 53-game season on three continents, including the loss to Cuba earlier this summer at the World Championships in Italy. Martinez hit two home runs in that game, too.

'Oh man, this is the best feeling in the world,' Martinez said. 'All those bus rides, plane trips, early-morning wake-up calls -- I wouldn't trade it for anything.'

Martinez's first home run, a two-run blast to center in the fourth inning, put the Americans ahead for good in the game at Chamshil Baseball Stadium. The United States added another run in the inning when Dave Silvestri singled in Ed Wood. In the fifth, Tyrone Griffin singled and stole second and scored on a single by Martinez. In the eighth, Martinez homered to left.

Abbott faltered in the sixth when Japan scored twice to make it 4-3. Coach Mark Marquess stuck with Abbott, who is going to the California Angeles, and he retired the last 11 batters in order.


Japan used three relievers after starter Takehiro Ishii, who pitched in four of Japan's five Olympic games, was pulled in the fourth.

Martinez said he did not expect to make the Olympic team until starring at last year's Pan Am Games. He led the pile-on on Abbott after the game.

'I thought all inning what I'd do -- throw the ball into the stands, or go for Jim,' Martinez said. 'I had dreams of making the last out, catching it and jumping in a pile.'

Abbott, a two-time All America from the University of Michigan, said his face was ground into the dirt and his legs and wrist were sore from the pile-up.

'I'm hurting, but it was worth it,' he said. 'Winning a gold in a team sport increases it 20-fold. For how good you feel, 19 other guys feel the same way.'

Martinez's father manages a cigar factory in Tampa and was in the stands Wednesday. The younger Martinez doesn't smoke.

'I might have one tonight,' he said.

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