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September 21, 2000

Japan edges out Canada

Associated Press

Blacktown, Australia — Haruka Saito homered to lead off the game, then doubled in the game-winner in the 10th inning Thursday as Japan knocked Canada out of medal contention with a 4-3 victory.

Juri Takay struck out six in four innings of relief. Sommer West made the last out on a hard grounder to third with runners on second and third.

Japan (5-0) remains the only unbeaten team in the tournament. With games against non-contenders New Zealand and Italy remaining, Japan is likely to enter the medal round as the top seed.

“Japan keeps improving and as a result, you earn everything you get from them, said coach Ron Clarke.

Saito led off the game with a homer as Japan scored two runs in the first. Japan made it 3-0 in the sixth when Miyo Yamada homered.

But Canada (1-4) tied it in the bottom of the sixth when Hayley Wickenheiser and Sandy Newsham singled and Erin Woods hit a three-run homer.

“As soon as I hit the ball, I knew it was a home run,” said Woods, of Vancouver. “This is the greatest hit of my career. I was probably the quickest home-run runner because I couldn't wait to get home.”

Heather Newsham, who replaced her sister Sandy in the seventh, took the loss.

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