Sports Digest: Casas hits two homers as Sea Dogs pound Yard Goats, 14-3


BASEBALL

The Portland Sea Dogs hit five home runs, two by Triston Casas, in beating the Hartford Yard Goats 14-3 Wednesday night at Hartford, Connecticut.

Roldani Baldwin, Johan Mieses and Joey Meneses also hit homers for Portland, which has opened the season with six wins in eight games.

Portland lost its road opener Tuesday night to Hartford.

Casas was 4 for 6 with six RBI. He scored three times and raised his batting average to .286.

Josh Winckowski got his first win, pitching six innings. He allowed two hits, a run and a walk, striking out four.

SOCCER

Ajax has melted down its Dutch league trophy to give a tiny silver star to all 42,000 season-ticket holders who were locked out of games during the coronavirus pandemic.

The storied Amsterdam club published movie-like videos Wednesday of the Eredivisie trophy – a wide silver plate – being torched and recast into small stars. A star weighing 3.45 grams (1/8 ounce) will be sent to supporters, Ajax said.

“After a turbulent year, we are ensuring our fans feel part of our championship,” said chief executive Edwin van der Sar, arguably the club’s greatest-ever goalkeeper. The project slogan is, “A Piece of Victory. A Piece of History. A Piece of Ajax.”

The Dutch soccer federation gave Ajax a second silver plate as an exceptional gift to display in its trophy cabinet, the club said. Ajax played 30 of its 34 league games in an empty stadium this season. The team, which plays in a 55,000-seat arena named after Dutch soccer icon Johan Cruyff, also won the Dutch Cup to complete a double. The stadium is expected to have 12,000 spectators when it hosts each of four European Championship games next month.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Porto is set to be confirmed as host of the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City after Portuguese authorities on Wednesday approved the return of supporters to stadiums.

UEFA is planning to announce by the end of the week that the 50,000-capacity Estádio do Dragão will be used for the May 29 showpiece with thousands of fans from both English clubs set to be allowed into the game, people with knowledge of the planning told The Associated Press. Stadiums have been closed to spectators in Portugal but pandemic restrictions are being eased to allow them to be at 10% capacity for the final round of league games next Wednesday.

UEFA is hoping for more than 10,000 people to be at the Porto stadium after having to move the final from Istanbul to Portugal for a second successive year. The initial backup plan had been to use Wembley Stadium in London but talks with the British government stalled on Monday over being able to secure quarantine waivers for the guests and broadcasters required by UEFA to attend the game.

• The referee for the Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester City will be Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who sent Pep Guardiola off during a game three years ago. The City manager confronted the Spanish official for ruling out a goal as his team lost to Liverpool in the quarterfinals of the Champions League in 2018. Mateu Lahoz has officiated in six matches in the elite European club competition this season.

UEFA INVESTIGATION: UEFA appointed in-house investigators Wednesday for disciplinary cases against European Super League organizers Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona.

The three clubs could be banned from future Champions League or Europa League competitions and fined for refusing to renounce the project which collapsed within 48 hours of being announced last month. The nine other rebel clubs reached settlements last week to commit to UEFA competitions and pay millions in forfeits of future prize money and donations to a UEFA-run charity.

The focus for inspectors will be “a potential violation of UEFA’s legal framework … in connection with the so-called ‘Super League’ project,” UEFA said. The European soccer body’s legal statutes include a section “prohibited groupings” of clubs or leagues forming without UEFA’s permission or outside its control. No timetable was given for the UEFA investigation.

TENNIS

ITALIAN OPEN: Serena Williams’ 1,000th tour-level match ended in defeat as she marked her return to action with a 7-6 (6), 7-5 loss to Nadia Podoroska on Wednesday in the second round of the Italian Open. The eighth-seeded Williams, who hadn’t played since the Australian Open, came from a break down twice in the opening set and saved the first three set points she faced in the tiebreaker before Podoroska converted her fourth. The Argentine went on to win in 1 hour, 58 minutes.

“It’s tough to have a first match on clay. It was definitely kind of good to go the distance and to try to be out there, but clearly I can do legions better,” said Williams, who has won the Italian Open four times. “Maybe I do need a few more matches, so I’m going to try to figure that out with my coach and my team and see what we would like to do. … I have been training for months, but it feels definitely different on clay to make that last adjustment.”

The 24-year-old Podoroska took a 5-2 lead in the second set but was broken at love the first time she tried to serve out the match. However, she broke Williams again in the 12th game to seal her third career win over a top-10 player.

In the men’s tournament, third-seeded Daniil Medvedev lost 6-2, 6-4 to fellow Russian Aslan Karatsev.

FRENCH OPEN: Players at the French Open will be allowed a daily one-hour window outside their social-distancing bubble, tournament organizers said Wednesday.

Guy Forget, the director of the clay-court Grand Slam, said players will have the chance to get out for a jog or enjoy some fresh air during their stay in the French capital despite coronavirus restrictions. Insisting players are “extremely aware of the danger” caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Forget said they won’t be put under surveillance.

“Our goal is not to put them in a necklace and attach them to their hotel or to the Roland Garros stadium,” he said.

For the second year in a row, the traditional French Open schedule has been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic. Initially scheduled to start on May 23, first-round matches will now get underway on May 30. Last year’s tournament was pushed back to September because of the pandemic, with crowds limited to 1,000 per day.

This year’s delay will allow organizers to welcome more fans since nationwide restrictions enforced in France are set to ease before and during the tournament.

PLAYER BANNED: A tennis player who represented Kazakhstan in the Davis Cup has been banned for 10 years after admitting a string of corruption charges. The International Tennis Integrity Agency said that Roman Khassanov admitted offenses which took place from 2014 through 2018. He has been banned from attending any official tennis events and fined $100,000, with all but $25,000 of that sum suspended.

The charges included breaking rules against fixing or attempting to fix any aspect of an event and soliciting or accepting money or other benefits. The ITIA did not say which competitions were affected. Khassanov had a career-high ranking of 671 in 2018 and mostly played lower-level Futures and Challenger events. The 24-year-old’s last recorded tournament was in 2019.

CYCLING

TOUR D’ITALIA: Australian cyclist Caleb Ewan won a crash-marred fifth stage of the Giro d’Italia on Wednesday and Alessandro De Marchi kept hold of the leader’s pink jersey.

Ewan’s victory in a sprint finish was overshadowed by several crashes in the final 15 kilometers. The most serious involved one of the favorites, Mikel Landa, who was taken away in an ambulance. The incident occurred after American cyclist Joseph Dombrowski hit a race marshal signaling an obstacle in the middle of the road, causing a crash.

Dombrowski, who had been second overall after winning the previous stage, was able to continue but finished more than eight minutes behind Ewan. The consequences were more serious for Landa, who received swift treatment before being taken to hospital.

Pavel Sivakov’s hopes of overall victory are also in tatters after he was involved in another crash. The Ineos Grenadiers rider managed to get up and change bicycles but had no chance of catching the high-speed peloton.

Ewan was also involved in a late tangle with Tim Merlier but managed to stay upright and edge ahead of Giacomo Nizzolo in the final 50 meters of the flat and straight 177-kilometer (110-mile) route from Modena to Cattolica on the Adriatic coast.

It was an 11th second-place finish in the Giro for Nizzolo, who has never won a Grand Tour stage. Elia Viviani was third. De Marchi remained 42 seconds ahead of Louis Vervaeke, who moved into second. Nelson Oliveira is third, 48 seconds behind De Marchi.

 

 


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