S. Korea to face Taiwan in baseball final
Choo Shin-soo hits
third homer in semifinal
By Yoon Chul
The South Korean baseball team has a chance to reclaim the top spot at the Asian Games after punishing host China.
At the Aoti Baseball Field, Korea’s baseballers beat China 7-1 in the semifinal Thursday and they will compete for gold medal on Friday with Taiwan, which defeated Japan in the other semifinal.
South Korean starter Yang Hyun-jong of the Kia Tigers allowed just one run in six innings and lone Major Leaguer Choo Shin-soo shone again with solo home run.
Slugger Kim Tae-kyun of the Chiba Lotte Marines has struggled for form but recorded a two-run double, while Lee Dae-ho of the Lotte Giants had a poor outing despite a late hit for a single.
In the bottom of the second inning, Doosan Bears consistent hitter Kim Hyun-soo hit a single and a Kang Jung-ho double sent Kim to third base.
Veteran catcher Park Kyung-oan’s hit sent two runners home for a 2-0 lead.
Yang dominated on the mound and the Chinese batters failed to deal with his fastball.
The Korean starter saw two high balls give up two doubles to make the score 2-1, sending China’s dugout wild, but the Tribe’s best hitter Choo quickly silenced them.
Chinese starter Jiangang Lu had two outs in the third, but Choo connected with a low inside pitch and lifted the ball over the right fence for a 3-1 lead.
In the fifth Korea earned another three runs after three doubles and a walk.
Yang completed six innings, throwing less than 100 pitches, and Yoon Suk-min eventually appeared for the first time this Asiad in order to prepare for the final match and he lived up to Korean manager Cho Bum-hyun’s expectations in the seventh.
Cho called on Song Eun-bum of the SK Wyverns in the eighth and An Ji-man of the Samsung Lions and Chong Tae-hyon, also of the Wyverns for the ninth inning.
The Korean pitchers looked in good shape pitching over 150-kilometer-per-hour fastball thanks partly to the warm and wet weather.
Jung Keun-woo of the Wyverns and Lee Young-kyu of the Tigers were first and second in the batting order instead of Lee Jong-wook of the Bears after his disappointing performances.
Kim Tae-kyun hasn’t played well so far, but he found some form ahead of the final, hitting a double for two runs in the fifth.
In the final Ryu Hyun-jin of the Hanwha Eagles will start on the mound again and Korea will have a host of reliable pitchers in the bullpen.
Yoon Suk-min and Bong Jung-keun are preparing as long relievers, while Lim Tae-hoon, Chong Tae-hyon will be ready to close out the match.
“I think allowing a hit in the first inning and a run in the third actually boosted the team to concentrate on the game for the victory,” national team manager Cho Bum-hyun said.
“Tomorrow is the day we’ve been waiting for, and we’ll do everything we can to win the gold medal.
“The gold was the only thing the team had in mind for this Asian Games. As the expected starting pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin is in good form, I’m sure the boys will come up with something incredible,” he added.