Team USA

Hilary Knight sends Team USA past Canada for 4th straight world championship

Hilary Knight sends Team USA past Canada for 4th straight world championship

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- The U.S. women's hockey players threw their sticks and gloves in the air and celebrated, capping an emotionally charged two-week stretch with a 3-2 overtime win over Canada in the women's world championship final Friday night.

Hilary Knight made the postgame party possible by scoring 10:17 into the extra period to make the Americans winners on and off the ice. After threatening to sit out the tournament, they won a contentious fight with USA Hockey for better wages that will allow the country's best female hockey players to make a living playing the sport.

"I'm so proud of this team for performing the way we did after battling the way we did off the ice," said Meghan Duggan, the Americans' captain. "A lot of history was made."

The U.S. won its fourth straight world championship title and eighth in the last 10 tries against their rivals, who will get their shot at revenge as defending Olympic champions next year in South Korea.

Brianne Jenner tied it at 2 for Canada midway through the third period on a power play after Kacey Bellamy's second goal early in the period gave the Americans their first lead in the gold-medal game.

The U.S. had two power plays in the third period with 7:24 and 2:24 left along with another power play early in OT, but couldn't capitalize on the opportunities to score a go-ahead goal with an extra skater.

Canada's Meghan Agosta scored 1:01 into the game, and Bellamy tied it 3 1/2 minutes later.

Nicole Hensley stopped 28 shots for the U.S.

Canada's goaltender, Shannon Szabados, was tested much more and made 37 saves.

"She was unbelievable," Agosta said. "She kept us in the game."

The Americans boldly said they would boycott the tournament, which would've embarrassed USA Hockey at a tournament held in an arena named after the organization, if they didn't get more money and perks their male counterparts get such as flying in business class and staying at nice hotels. The landmark deal allows them to make more than $70,000 during non-Olympic years and as much as $129,000 in Olympic years, including 2018, when combined with contributions from the United States Olympic Committee.

"We knew that was going to be a bond that was unbreakable," Knight said.

USA Hockey looked like it tried to break the unified front of American women, trying to find lower-caliber players to take their spots in the world championship if Plan B became necessary.

"They didn't want to forgo this opportunity, but they were willing to do it," Dee Spagnuolo, one of the attorneys who represented the women without a fee, said during the first intermission at USA Hockey Arena. "Every time we huddled up to make tough decisions before and during negotiations, they were united and firm. This team off the ice is so united and in adverse, tense situations in games, it helps them win on the ice, too."

The U.S. carried the momentum from the win against USA Hockey into the eight-nation tournament by dominating the competition until their rivals pushed them into OT.

The Americans were the better team in the end, though, creating lots of scoring chances in the sudden-death period that could have lasted up to 20 minutes. They didn't need that much time to finish the Canadians off with a second straight OT victory in a world championship gold-medal game.

Knight, who made a no-look, between-the leg pass to set up Bellamy's second goal, was trailing on a 3-on-2 rush when Coyne dropped a pass to her and she scored from the inside of the left circle. In the 2011 world championship final, Knight also scored the gold-medal winning goal in OT.

"She's one of the best in the world and she comes up big when you need her and the moment is huge," Bellamy said. "That's what's what make her so special. When everything is on the line, she comes through clutch."

When Knight lit the goal lamp, the jubilant Americans screamed with joy and hugged in a huge huddle.

"Nothing compares to a gold-medal game against Canada," Bellamy said. "The emotions are so high. The energy in the building was incredible and it was a really fast-paced game and we had to fight to the end."

The Canadians, meanwhile, skated in the other direction. They rested their gloves on their knees and stared at the ice in silence as a sold-out crowd at USA Hockey Arena roared.

In the beginning of the tournament, Canada struggled before rallying to face off against the Americans as they've done in all 18 world championships. The Canadians opened with a 2-0 loss to the U.S. and a stunning, 4-3 setback against Finland before bouncing back with an 8-0 rout of Russia and a 4-0 win over the Finns in the semifinals.

"We were resilient the whole tournament," Agosta said.

United States blanks Puerto Rico to win its first World Baseball Classic

United States blanks Puerto Rico to win its first World Baseball Classic

LOS ANGELES -- The eagle has landed on top.

The United States routed Puerto Rico 8-0 to win its first World Baseball Classic in four tries on Wednesday night behind six hitless innings from Marcus Stroman.

The Americans planted their eagle statue mascot on the mound in celebration, a blue cap jauntily hanging from one of its large wings.

"It's a different feeling when the USA is on your chest," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "We wanted to get the U.S. back on top of the baseball world, and we did that."

For a sport known as America's pastime, the U.S. had struggled since the WBC began in 2006. Twice, the Americans lost in the second round and they went out in the semifinals in 2009.

This time was different.

"These guys were here to do their best," Team USA general manager Joe Torre said. "The thing I marveled at was how quickly they came together, and Jimmy (Leyland) deserves a lot of that credit. They're just a great group who understood what this event is all about."

Accepting the gleaming silver trophy from baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, Leyland told the crowd, "This is for the men and women who serve our country."

After the final out, the Americans massed on the mound, hugging and high-fiving while fireworks exploded in center field. Some of them grabbed a U.S. flag and circled the warning track, waving it in celebration with fans in the stands.

Puerto Rico's fans saluted their team with a standing ovation and the players responded by clapping.

Puerto Rico lost for the first time in eight games after outscoring the opposition 55-26. The U.S. territory finished runner-up for the second time, having lost to the Dominican Republic in the 2013 final.

Tournament MVP Stroman avenged his shakiness in the Americans' 6-5 loss to Puerto Rico during pool play. The right-hander from the Toronto Blue Jays gave up one hit in six-plus innings, struck out three and walked one on 73 pitches.

He allowed just three balls past the infield until Angel Pagan's double in the left-field corner leading off the seventh, when Stroman departed to a standing ovation, having staked the Americans to a 7-0 lead with the help of Ian Kinsler's two-run homer.

Stroman walked Carlos Beltran leading off the second, but the defense helped him out. Yadier Molina hit the ball to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play before Stroman struck out Javier Baez to end the inning.

The U.S. pounded out 13 hits and finished with a 6-2 record while making the final for the first time in front of 51,565 at Dodger Stadium.

Kinsler homered off an 0-1 pitch from Seth Lugo into left-center field in the third, scoring Jonathan Lucroy, who singled leading off.

Lugo of the New York Mets allowed four runs and five hits, struck out seven and walked four in four innings. The right-hander won his first two starts of the tournament, including in the second round against Stroman and the U.S.

Stroman gave up six consecutive singles in a four-run first inning and took the loss against Puerto Rico last Friday in San Diego.

The Americans made it 4-0 in the fifth on RBI singles by Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen.

Fans wore flags of both countries as capes and decorated their faces in team colors. Puerto Rico boosters pounded cowbells, tooted horns and blew whistles early on before their team fell behind 4-0.

Fans were on their feet chanting "U-S-A" when the Americans loaded the bases in the seventh with two outs. They were rewarded with Crawford's two-run single that chased J.C. Romero, extending the lead to 6-0.

The U.S. tacked on another run on Giancarlo Stanton's RBI single off Hiram Burgos past diving shortstop Francisco Lindor.

The Americans defeated two-time champion Japan, while Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands to reach the final.

The three games at Dodger Stadium drew 109,892.

Team USA edges Japan to reach World Baseball Classic title game

Team USA edges Japan to reach World Baseball Classic title game

LOS ANGELES -- Brandon Crawford scored the tiebreaking run when Nobuhiro Matsuda bobbled Adam Jones' grounder to third in the eighth inning, and the United States reached the championship game of the World Baseball Classic for the first time by beating Japan 2-1 on Tuesday night at rainy Dodger Stadium.

Andrew McCutchen drove in an early run for the U.S., which will play Puerto Rico for the title Wednesday night. Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 4-3 in 11 innings Monday.

The World Baseball Classic final has been played in the United States in each of its four editions, but the home team had never made it.

The Americans only reached the semifinals once before, in 2009. But this All-Star-laden roster has won two straight elimination games to earn the chance for its first crown.

Ryosuke Kikuchi hit a tying homer off reliever Nate Jones in the sixth inning for Japan, but the two-time WBC champions were twice let down by their normally sturdy defense on a rain-soaked night at Chavez Ravine, where an intermittent downpour kept fans in ponchos.

McCutchen opened the scoring with an RBI single in the fourth inning moments after Kikuchi's two-base error at second. In the eighth, Crawford likely would have been out at the plate on Jones' innocent grounder, but Matsuda didn't field it cleanly and had to throw to first.

Japan, unbeaten coming into the game, won the first two WBC tournaments before losing in the semifinals in 2013.

Tanner Roark pitched four scoreless innings of two-hit ball before U.S. manager Jim Leyland went to his bullpen early and liberally. His sixth reliever, Luke Gregerson, pitched a perfect ninth inning after Pat Neshek escaped a two-on jam in the eighth.

Although the crowd of 33,462 strongly favored the team with five California natives in the starting lineup, thousands of Japanese fans showed up early and chanted throughout the game, accompanied by the brass band in the left-field bleachers.

A light, misting rain started falling several hours before game time, forcing the teams to take batting practice indoors while a tarp covered the infield. The wet weather, unusual for Los Angeles, eventually soaked the playing field and forced grounds crews to tend to the infield dirt between innings.

But the WBC couldn't really afford a rainout day, given its tight schedule in the final weeks of big league spring training.

Leyland kept a lineup with eight All-Stars, making only one change from the team that beat the Dominican Republic on Saturday to avoid elimination. Buster Posey was behind the plate, continuing his alternation with Jonathan Lucroy, apparently in accordance with their major league teams' wishes.

Tomoyuki Sugano, the Yomiuri Giants ace with a seven-pitch repertoire, tossed six innings of three-hit ball for Japan, striking out six and yielding only one unearned run.

"He's a big league pitcher," Leyland said before the game.

But Sugano was matched by Roark, who had given up three runs over 1 1/3 innings in his only previous WBC appearance. The Washington Nationals right-hander was largely outstanding against Japan, giving up just two singles and a walk and hitting a batter with a pitch. After Christian Yelich reached second in the fourth inning when his hard-hit grounder was mishandled by Kikuchi, the standout defensive second baseman, Eric Hosmer worked out of an 0-2 count to draw a two-out walk.

McCutchen had just two hits in his first 14 at-bats in the WBC, but he drove in Yelich with a sharp single to left.

Kikuchi atoned for his mistake in the sixth, driving Jones' fastball barely over the reach of McCutchen in right field for his first homer of the tournament.

Japan reliever Kodai Senga struck out the first four batters he faced with a 96 mph fastball and exceptional off-speed stuff, but Crawford then delivered a sharp single before Ian Kinsler doubled to deep left-center.

Neshek got cleanup hitter Yoshimoto Tsutsugoh on a fly to right to end the eighth.