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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 09:18 GMT
US knocked out of World Classic
Roger Clemens
Will the Rocket's last outing be a stunning American defeat?
The US have been knocked out of the inaugural World Baseball Classic after a 2-1 defeat by Mexico in their final pool game in the World Cup-style event.

The Amercians managed only three hits in Anaheim as their claim to be the top baseball nation was undermined.

The US fielded a crop of Major League stars, including veteran pitcher Roger Clemens, who then hinted at retirement.

The hosts' exit means the semi-finals will see Cuba meet the Dominican Republic and Japan play South Korea.

Amercia's defeat was a massive blow to the nation that invented the game, produces most of the world's top players and considers the sport its national pastime.

There are a lot of guys hurting in the clubhouse right now
US coach Buck Martinez
The formidable line-up of future Hall of Famers and All-Stars never found their form in the 16-nation competition, losing three of their six games.

Mexico held their opponents' batsmen to just three hits off eight pitchers leaving US coach Buck Martinez to pick up the pieces.

Martinez said: "There was a lot said about Team USA not taking this seriously.

"But I can guarantee you there are a lot of guys hurting in the clubhouse right now. We just never got into the groove with the bats."

Clemens, who gave up two runs in just over four innings' work, received a standing ovation from a crowd of over 38,000 as he walked off the field.

For me, right now, it's goodbye
Roger Clemens
"I felt great and my body responded well," said the 43-year-old pitching legend who has struck out 4,502 batters in 22 Major League seasons.

"I'm very thankful for the opportunity to participate in this event.

"I got to know a number of players from different teams and they got to see the competitive side of my nature.

"But for me, right now, it's goodbye."

Martinez, however, does not expect the hard-throwing right-hander to call it a day just yet.

"Roger threw the ball very well," Martinez said.

"I think just the emotion of the game and even a great pitcher like Roger Clemens gets caught up in the moment.

"I expect him to pitch beyond this start."

Japan were the main beneficiaries of America's embarrassing reverse as they took the final semi-final berth.

Japan, Mexico and the US finished the second group stage tied on one win and two losses each, but the Japanese advanced thanks to their better scoring over the three matches.

The Japanese now go into their game against the Koreans desperate to avenge two defeats in this competition to their fierce regional rivals.


SEE ALSO
Americans crash to second defeat
14 Mar 06 |  Baseball
Canadian victory shocks US stars
09 Mar 06 |  Baseball
US allows Cuba to play in Classic
20 Jan 06 |  Baseball
Baseball - the basics
24 Mar 04 |  US Sport
Baseball jargonbuster
24 Mar 04 |  US Sport


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