(Asian Games) S. Korea reaches baseball gold medal game

August 31, 2018

JAKARTA, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) — Two-time defending champion South Korea reached baseball’s gold medal game at the 18th Asian Games on Friday with a convincing win over China.

Cleanup Park Byung-ho launched a three-run home run and starter Im Gi-yeong held China to a run over 6 1/3 innings, as South Korea prevailed 10-1 in its last super round game at GBK Baseball Field.

In Saturday’s gold medal game, South Korea will face Japan, which shut out Chinese Taipei 5-0 in their super round game Friday evening.

South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei were all tied at two wins and one loss, but Chinese Taipei lost out on a tiebreaker based on runs scored and runs allowed.

South Korea defeated Japan 5-1 in the super round on Thursday. This will be the first meeting between the two in the Asiad baseball final since 1998.

Park Byung-ho of South Korea watches his three-run home run against China in the bottom of the fifth inning of a baseball super round game at the 18th Asian Games at GBK Baseball Field on Aug. 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

Park Byung-ho of South Korea watches his three-run home run against China in the bottom of the fifth inning of a baseball super round game at the 18th Asian Games at GBK Baseball Field on Aug. 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korea scored its first run in the bottom of the first on a Chinese defensive miscue.

With men at the corners, Park hit a grounder to third base, and Lee Jung-hoo, the runner at third, was caught in a rundown. Catcher Luan Chenchen tagged Lee out but then misfired his throw back to third baseman Chen Chen when Kim Jae-hwan moved from first to third.

As the ball trickled into shallow left field, Kim sprinted home to give South Korea a 1-0 lead.

South Korea dodged a bullet in the second when Im loaded the bases with a hit-by-pitch, a single and a walk. He cleaned up his own mess by striking Yang Jin out to end the inning.

Son Ah-seop, who entered the game in a 0-for-13 slump, knocked in South Korea’s second run with an RBI double in the fourth. It was his second hit of the game.

Park then blew the game open in the bottom fifth with a towering three-run homer to straightaway center, putting South Korea ahead 5-0. He has now homered in three consecutive games.

Hwang Jae-gyun’s one-out single in the sixth made it 6-0 for South Korea. Three batters later, Kim Jae-hwan brought home two more runs with a double to right-center.

South Korea gift-wrapped a run to China in the top of the seventh.

With the men at first and third, Lu Zhenhong pounded one hard into the ground and the ball stopped just in front of the home plate. Instead of firing to first base to get the sure out, catcher Lee Jae-won tried to get the lead runner at second but made a poor throw, allowing Song Yunqi to score from third.

Son drove in his second run of the game with a bases-loaded single in the seventh inning for a 9-1 lead.

Still in the seventh, Kim Hyun-soo’s heads-up base running made it 10-1 for South Korea. Chinese shortstop Yang Jin made a spectacular diving grab in the foul territory in shallow left, and Kim tagged up from third and just beat Yang’s throw home.

One more run in the seventh would have ended the game on a mercy rule, which forces a game to be called when a team is up by 10 or more runs through seven innings, but South Korea failed to finish China off and had to play the full nine innings.

On an injury note, second baseman An Chi-hong was lifted after the fourth inning with a mild back strain.

South Korean starter Im Gi-yeong throws a pitch against China in a baseball super round game at the 18th Asian Games at GBK Baseball Field on Aug. 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

South Korean starter Im Gi-yeong throws a pitch against China in a baseball super round game at the 18th Asian Games at GBK Baseball Field on Aug. 31, 2018. (Yonhap)

 

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