YOKOHAMA, Japan — Hosts Japan waved to mostly empty stands after winning their second straight gold medal in softball on Tuesday by beating the United States 2-0 at the Tokyo Games, using two-way player Yamato Fujita's bat, ace Yukiko Ueno's arm and all-around sharp defensive play.
The result left the United States with the silver medal, a repeat of 13 years earlier, when Japan stunned them in the most recent prior edition of Olympic softball. Canada earlier took bronze by defeating Mexico 3-2.
Ueno allowed just two hits over six innings and exited the game to a standing ovation from Canada and last-place Italy, both of whom watched the game from the cavernous stadium's top rows.
Fujita had two hits and a hand in both runs, scoring the first and driving in the other.
U.S. pitchers Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott pitched four and one-third scoreless innings. But Ally Carda, who followed in relief of Osterman, gave up three hits and walked one, allowing the base runners that led to Japan's scores.
The loss repeats the American heartbreak of the 2008 gold-medal game. Japan shut down a late rally to knock off the consensus top team in the world in the final at Beijing.
Earlier on Tuesday, the sun came out to shine on Canada's victory celebration after a drizzle-soaked bronze medal game.
"A dream come true," said pitcher Jenna Caira after the win that brought her country its first ever Olympic medal in the sport.
Canada benefited from a bunt single and a fielding error by Mexico, making their debut in the event, to jump ahead 2-0.
Mexico tied the contest before Kelsey Harshman drove in the game-winning run in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly off of Danielle O'Toole, who pitched the entire game for Mexico.
O'Toole exhaled deeply as she watched Canada pitcher Danielle Lawrie near the game's last out.
"Just thinking about alternative outcomes," O'Toole said of the moment as Lawrie and two other Canada pitchers just held Mexico off.
Canada spelled out their country's name and, before posing for victory photos around the field, yelled "Let's go Canada" in a chant dedicated to their chef de mission Marnie McBean as she sat watching as their lone fan.
Softball will not return to the Olympics until at least 2028.