Ace pitcher Cat Osterman (pictured) struck out the only two batters she faced in relief of starter Ally Carda to help Team USA beat Japan at the 2020 Summer Games softball tournament Monday in Yokohama. Photo by Jade Hewitt, courtesy of USA Softball
July 26 (UPI) -- The USA softball team capped off a perfect run through 2020 Summer Games group play with a 2-1 win over Japan on Monday in Yokohama, Japan. Team USA third baseman Kelsey Stewart ended the game with a walk-off homer.
Team USA pitchers Ally Carda, Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott combined to allow just four hits in the victory.
Team USA faces Japan in the gold medal game Tuesday in Yokohama. The matchup is a rematch of the gold medal game from the 2008 Summer Games, the last Olympics to include softball.
Japan beat Team USA in that game. Abbott and Osterman are the only roster holdovers from the 2008 silver medal squad.
Carda started Monday's game. Center fielder Saki Yamazaki reached base on a fielding error in the leadoff at-bat. She moved to second base on a sacrifice bunt.
Yamazaki reached third when Hitomi Kawabata singled in the next at-bat. She scored Japan's lone run on a passed ball off catcher Aubree Munro's glove two at-bats later.
Japan held onto the one-run lead for the next five innings.
Team USA designated player Michelle Moultrie struck out to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Center fielder Haylie McCleney and left fielder Janie Reed followed with back-to-back singles. Right fielder Amanda Chidester then reached on a fielders choice.
First baseman Valerie Arioto stepped into the box for the next exchange against Japan starter Yamato Fujita. She hit a single to left field to plate McCleney and tied the game at 1-1.
Abbott entered the game in the seventh and retired Japan in order. Stewart stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the frame. Fujita took an 0-1 lead in the count. Stewart sent her second offering over the right field fence for the game-winning home run.
Stewart went 1 for 2 with a run scored and an RBI for Team USA. Kawabata went 2 for 3 for Japan.
Fujita allowed four hits and two runs in six innings in the loss.
Team USA finished group play with a 5-0 record in the six-team, round-robin tournament. Japan was 4-1. The top two teams in the group advanced to the gold medal game. The third and fourth place teams advance to the bronze medal match.
Team USA battles Japan for the gold medal at 7 a.m. EDT Tuesday on NBCSN.
France goalkeeper Paul Bernardoni can't stop a goal from Mexico forward Uriel Antuna (not seen) in a Men's Group A soccer match during the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games on July 22. Photo by Bob Strong/UPI | License Photo