BEIJING -- As it turns out, the face that might save Olympic softball doesn't belong to Jennie Finch.
When the International Olympic Committee meets next year in Copenhagen to decide whether the sport will be reinstated for the 2016 Games, it's quite possible the memories from an amazing 36 hours put in by Japan's Yukiko Ueno will still be etched in their minds.
Thursday night, Ueno led her team to arguably the most stunning upset of the Beijing Games, topping the United States 3-1 in the gold medal game. It marked the first time in four Olympiads that the Americans -- who hadn't given up an earned run in these games -- failed to win.
Ueno pitched nine innings in a 4-1 semifinal loss to the U.S. on Wednesday. But Japan then qualified for the gold medal game with a 4-3, 12-inning win over Australia (the winner of the other semifinal) as Ueno went the distance.
Even after throwing 21 innings and an estimated 300 pitches, Ueno was nastier Thursday. When the game ended, the frustration the Americans felt all night was released in an explosion of emotion.
Cat Osterman, the starting and losing pitcher, collapsed into the arms of her coach, Mike Candrea, sobbing uncontrollably.
"We just couldn't buy a hit when we needed one and frankly, Japan was the better team tonight," Candrea said. "But I still love this team."
It's possible the sting from Thursday's loss will be softened next October in Denmark.
"I suppose if you were worried that you were keeping a sport that the Americans were guaranteed to win, Japan just drove a stake through the heart of that argument," said Dick Pound, an IOC member from Canada. "I just think the real difficulty was that people thought it was 'women's baseball,' and the members were mad at baseball for not sending the best players to the games and not caring at all about doping."
TRACK AND FIELD -- Both U.S. relay teams dropped the baton.
"I take full blame for it," anchor Tyson Gay said of his bad exchange with third-leg runner Darvis Patton. "I kind of feel I let them down."
About 25 minutes later, women's anchor Lauryn Williams flubbed her exchange with Torri Edwards, who stared in disbelief at the baton sitting on the track. At the 2004 Olympics, Williams started running too early and missed a handoff from Marion Jones in the final.
Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown ran the fastest women's 200 in a decade, 21.74 seconds, to beat American Allyson Felix (21.93) and complete her country's sweep of the four men's and women's sprint races.
World record-holder Dayron Robles (12.93) of Cuba outran Americans David Payne (13.17) and David Oliver (13.18) in the 110 hurdles. And Bryan Clay of the U.S. led the decathlon after five events with 4,521 points.
MEN'S BEACH VOLLEYBALL -- Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser of the U.S. won the gold medal by beating Brazil's Fabio and Marcio 23-21, 17-21, 15-4.
WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL -- U.S. coach Jenny Lang Ping -- nicknamed the "Iron Hammer" for her powerful spikes when she played for the Chinese team that beat the U.S. in the final of the 1984 games -- led the Americans to the title match with a 25-20, 25-16, 25-17 win over Cuba. The U.S. will play Brazil, which beat China, on Saturday.
WOMEN'S BASKETBALL -- Diana Taurasi scored 21 points to help the U.S. pull away from Russia 67-52 to make the gold medal game against Australia, which routed China 90-56.
DIVING -- China's Chen Ruolin rallied on her last dive to earn four 10s, winning the women's 10-meter platform.
TAEKWONDO -- South Korea's Son Tae-jin scored in the final second to send American Mark Lopez home to Texas with a silver in the men's 68-kilogram division. But Lopez' kid sister, Diana, got a bronze, and big brother and two-time Olympic champ Steven has a shot at gold.
BMX -- Americans Mike Day and Donny Robinson won silver and bronze in the men's final, while Jill Kintner took the bronze in the crash-filled women's final.