Park Se-woong saves the face of Korean baseball
South Korea defeated Japan 2-0 in a tightly contested game at the Hangzhou Asian Games Baseball Super Round on Friday at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center in Zhejiang, China. South Korea, which came into the tournament with one loss against Chinese Taipei, moved to 1-1 in the group stage with the win, a crucial milestone heading into the final. Japan, on the other hand, was in danger of being eliminated from the Super Round with two losses, including one against China.
South Korea will play China on June 6 in the final game of the Super Round. The “baseball fringe” China is considered the underdog of the four nations (Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and China) in the Super Round, but they made an upset by beating Japan 1-0 in a group game on April 4. South Korea can’t afford to let its guard down. “Chinese baseball has improved a lot,” said Ryu Jung-il, the national team’s head coach. Their catchers looked particularly good,” Ryu said, “We will prepare well for the style of Chinese pitchers. We don’t know what to expect, so we are determined to beat China.”
The victory over Japan didn’t leave a bad taste in the mouth. Against Japan, a team without a single professional player, Korea failed to take control of the game. It was a shaky start. Park Se-woong walked the leadoff batter, Hiroki Nakagawa, and allowed him to steal second base. A batter later, he was hit again by Shoji Kitamura to put runners on first and third.
But Park soon settled down. He got the next batter to ground into a foul fly to first base and a strikeout to get out of the inning unscathed. In the fourth, he gave up a leadoff single again, but struck out Tatsuhiko Sato and Masashi Maruyama in succession. He stayed on the mound until the sixth inning, giving up just two hits and striking out nine.
The Korean offense struggled to get anything going against Japanese starter Shuichiro Kyo. One of the top pitchers in Japan’s social baseball program, Yoho teased Korean hitters with a fastball that topped out at 147 kilometers per hour and a variety of pitches, including a changeup, curveball, and slider. A member of the Toyota Motor Baseball Organization, 카지노사이트킴 which produced legendary Japanese catcher Atsuya Furuta, he is currently assigned to the production management department.
South Korea drew two walks against Gayo in the first inning to put runners on second and third, but Noh Si-hwan struck out to end the threat. In the second and third innings, four batters were retired on strikes.
In the fourth inning, back-to-back singles by Choi Ji-hoon and Yoon Dong-hee put runners on second and third again, but a strikeout and a failed steal wasted the opportunity. Moon Bo-kyung’s hard-hit line drive was caught by pitcher Gayo Hoseobi.
South Korea finally got a run in the top of the sixth. Kim Hye-sung led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. No. 4 hitter Noh Si-hwan hit a sacrifice fly to left field to make it 1-0. In the eighth inning, a leadoff double by Kim Hye-sung and a single to left field by Noh Si-hwan added another valuable run.
However, Korea would not be able to secure the victory until the final inning. In the top of the ninth, an error by shortstop Kim Joo-won and a single by Sato put runners on first and second with no outs. The final pitcher, Park Young-hyun, got three outs with a grounder and a popup to end the nail-biter.
“Starting pitcher Park Se-woong pitched well, and the bullpen of Choi Ji-min and Park Young-hyun did a good job,” said Ryu Jung-il. “We will use Park Young-hyun or Ko Woo-seok as the closer depending on the situation.”