It took not one, but two Ryans to pitch Team USA into the gold medal game of the Olympic baseball competition.
And both have ties to North Carolina.
Joe Ryan, who was with the Durham Bulls until being traded while in Tokyo, got things started for the Americans, allowing just one run in 4 1/3 innings in Thursday’s semifinal matchup with Korea in Yokahama. Charlotte native Ryder Ryan, who played college ball at UNC, then took over to preserve a one-run lead before the bats took over for a 7-2 victory.
The Ryans are not related.
Ryder, a product of North Mecklenburg High School, relieved Joe with one out and the tying run in scoring position in the top of the fifth, and immediately induced Baekho Kang into a rally-killing double play. He also worked a scoreless sixth and was credited as the winning pitcher when his teammates broke the game open by scoring five times in the bottom of the inning.
Ryder Ryan has worked four innings in relief during the Olympic tournament and has yet to give up a run while allowing only one hit. The U.S. will play host Japan for the gold medal on Saturday.
________________________________Gold Silver Bronze Total
USA 29 35 27 91
China 34 24 16 74
ROC 16 22 20 58
Great Britain 16 18 17 51
Japan 22 10 14 46
East Carolina graduate Tynita Butts-Townsend was one of three Americans competing in the women’s high jump on Thursday.
Making her first Olympic appearance, Butts-Townsend, a seven-time All-American with the Pirates who was named the Conference USA Women’s Outdoor Field Athlete of the Year in 2014, cleared 1.82 meters (6 feet) on her second attempt, but was eliminated from the event by missing on all three attempts at 1.86 meters (6-1).
Duke’s Leona Maguire shot a four-under par 67 in the second round of the Olympic golf tournament to move into medal contention in the four-round event.
Maguire, representing Ireland, started the day in 21st place after an opening round 71, but jumped 10 spots to 11th at 4-under. Although she is nine shots behind leader Nelly Korda of the U.S., she is only five shots out of second place with 36 holes to play.
The women’s national soccer team bounced back from a semifinal loss to Canada by beating Australia 4-3, earning bronze medals for NC Courage teammates Sam Mewis and Lynn Williams, along with UNC alumnus Tobin Heath.
Duke’s Jayson Tatum scored nine points and High Point’s Bam Adebayo added three points and eight rebounds to help the U.S. men’s basketball team to a 97-78 semifinal win against Australia. The win sends the Americans into a gold medal rematch against France. The U.S. lost its opening game in Tokyo 83-76 to France, but has won four straight since.
Quanera Hayes of Hope Mills and Livingstone College didn’t run in the semifinals of the women’s 4 x 400 relay Thursday, but because the “B” squad won its heat and qualified for the final, Hayes will have a chance to run for a medal when she’s added to the lineup on Saturday.
Tatum runs for individual gold in the women’s 400 meter final while Morrisville’s Jordan Windle begins his quest for an Olympic medal during the qualification round of the men’s 10-meter platform diving event. Duke’s Jessica Springsteen is back in action as part of the U.S. squad in equestrian team jumping while Maguire looks to keep moving up the leaderboard in the third round of the golf tournament. NC A&T teammates Randolp Ross and Trevor Stewart, meanwhile, are both members of the relay pool and could be selected to run in the men’s 4 x 400 relay final.
The Associated Press contributed to this story