S. Korea dominates Dominican Republic 10-1 for 1st Premier 12 win

November 11, 2015
Lee Dae-ho of South Korea hits a go-ahead two-run home run against the Dominican Republic in their Premier 12 baseball game at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, on Nov. 11, 2015. (Yonhap)

Lee Dae-ho of South Korea hits a go-ahead two-run home run against the Dominican Republic in their Premier 12 baseball game at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei, on Nov. 11, 2015. (Yonhap)

TAOYUAN, Chinese Taipei (Yonhap) — South Korea pounded the Dominican Republic 10-1 for its first victory at the Premier 12 baseball tournament here on Wednesday.

Cleanup Lee Dae-ho belted a go-ahead two-run home run in the top seventh and the offense exploded for eight runs over the final two frames to back starter Jang Won-jun, who tossed seven strong innings for the breezy win at Taoyuan International Baseball Stadium in Taoyuan, Chinese Taipei.

It was the second Group B match for South Korea, following a 5-0 loss to Japan last Sunday.

South Korea will face Venezuela at noon, local time, on Thursday at the same venue, and will play Mexico on Saturday and the United States on Sunday at Tien-Mou Stadium in Taipei City.

The game’s two starters, Jang and Luis Perez, were locked in early on. Perez, a long-time minor leaguer in the Toronto Blue Jays system, no-hit South Korea for first 4 2/3 innings while striking out four. South Korea was unlucky, with a couple of hard liners finding their way into gloves of the Dominican infielders.

Jang matched Perez pitch for pitch, striking out six and allowing just two singles over his first four innings.

The South Korean southpaw cracked first in the bottom fifth, as the Dominicans took advantage of subpar outfield defense.

Wilkin Ramirez led off the inning with a sinking liner toward center fielder Lee Yong-kyu, who got a late jump and let the ball go off his glove for a double.

Then Pedro Feliz, with 1,302 major league games under his belt, hit a single up the middle to drive in the game’s first run.

Perez kept mowing down the South Korean hitters and needed only 66 pitches to get through six innings of one-hit ball.

Once the Dominican Republic turned to the bullpen to start the seventh, South Korea got to work. Left-hander Francisco Rondon walked Lee Yong-kyu to start the inning, and he was lifted in favor of Miguel Fermin after getting a groundout.

Then Lee Dae-ho, the reigning Japan Series MVP now pursuing a big league career, jumped on a 1-0 pitch and sent it over the left field for a two-run shot, putting South Korea up 2-1.

South Korea then went off for five runs on six straight hits in the eighth. After giving up two straight one-out singles, Fermin was relieved by Julio DePaula, who once pitched in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

Jeong Keun-woo swung on DePaula’s first pitch and shot it down the right field line for an RBI double. An infield single loaded the bases for Kim Hyun-soo, who promptly launched a bases-clearing triple over center fielder Teoscar Hernandez.

Lee Dae-ho them drove Kim home with a single to left, giving South Korea a 7-1 cushion.

South Korea wasn’t done, as Jeong touched Juan Morillo, the fifth Dominican pitcher, for a two-run double in the ninth to make it 9-1 South Korea. Lee Yong-kyu then brought Jeong home with a bloop single to left to round out the scoring.

The shaky Dominican Republic bullpen wasted a masterful start by Perez, who was pulled after just 66 pitches.

Jang worked around four hits over seven effective innings, striking out seven and walking one to earn the win.

After getting stymied by Japanese pitching last weekend, the much-maligned South Korean order came to life on Wednesday. Lee Dae-ho went 2-for-4 with three RBIs, and No. 3 hitter Kim Hyun-soo also chipped in three RBIs. Jeong, the team captain, drove in three runs on two doubles.

Lee Yong-kyu, batting second, had two hits and scored twice. He was the emergency replacement for starting right fielder Min Byung-hun, who left the game in the first inning after taking a pitch off his left foot.

The inaugural tournament brings together the top-12 nations based on last year’s final world rankings. They’ve been paired into two groups of six and the top four teams from each group will reach the quarterfinals.