Faced with the prospect of returning home empty-handed, the U-18 Baseball Team won its final Super Round game thanks to a no-hitter from the bullpen.
The Korea U-18 Baseball Team, led by Lee Young-bok (Chungam-Go), defeated the Netherlands 3-1 in the third game of the Super Round at the 2023 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) U-18 Baseball World Cup on Monday in Taipei, Taiwan.
South Korea had been lethargic in their previous two Super Round games against Japan and the United States, losing 1-7 and 1-5, respectively. The team, which was forced to play a tight schedule due to rain from the beginning of the tournament, struggled physically as they played their first game of the Super Round about four hours after their group stage match against Puerto Rico. They also felt the difference in quality between themselves and other teams such as Chinese Taipei, and were disappointed with the errors they made on defense. However, they saved their pride by winning their last game of the Super Round.
After finishing the Super Round with a final record of 2 wins and 3 losses (including wins against Chinese Taipei and Puerto Rico in the group stage), Korea moved up to third place in the standings. With three teams – Korea, Puerto Rico, and the United States – tied for third place with identical 2-3 records, Team Quality Balance (TQB) determined that the United States and Korea would finish third and fourth, respectively. Fifth-place Puerto Rico, which fell behind in TQB, had to finish the tournament without a spot in the bronze medal game.
South Korea came out with a lineup that didn’t change much from their usual lineup. Jung Ahn-seok (2B, Hwimungo)-Lee Chung-heon (center field, Chungam), Yeo Dong-gun (1B, Seoul), Park Ji-hwan (shortstop), Cho Hyun-min (3B, Chungam), Lee Yul-ye (designated hitter, Gangneung), Lee Sang-joon (catcher, Gyeonggi), Lee Seung-min (left field, Hwimungo), and Yeon Jun-won (right field, Busan), with the exception of Jung and Lee’s batting order being switched. Yuk Sun-yeop (Jang Chung-go) took the starting role.
The starter gave up a single to Amarencio Franca in the top of the first inning, but Jamie Beerman’s swinging strikeout saved the day. A stolen base and a wild pitch then put runners on second and third, but Yuk got out of the jam with a strikeout.
Then the bats came to the rescue. Tablesetters Jung Ahn-seok and Lee Chung-heon singled and walked to put runners on second and third, respectively, and after Yeo Dong-gun struck out, Jung Ahn-seok came home on Park Ji-hwan’s bunt. Lee Chung-heon moved to second and Park Ji-hwan, who had singled, moved to third.
With runners on first and third, South Korea added a run when Cho Hyun-min grounded out to second base, scoring Lee Chung-heon from third. A walk would have ended the inning with no runs scored, but the worst-case scenario was averted. The score remained 2-0.
With the run support, Yuk Sun-yeop stepped up his game. In the top of the second, she pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, and in the top of the third, she continued her cruise with a ground ball induced double play with runners on second and third.
Needing an insurance run, South Korea added one in the bottom of the third. Yeo Dong-gun led off the inning with a walk, and after Park Ji-hwan grounded out, Cho Hyun-min hit a double to the right side of the infield to bring home Yeo from second. It was enough to put Korea one step closer to victory.
Yuk’s no-hitter was interrupted in the top of the fourth inning. With two outs and runners on second and third, Yuk gave up a single to right field for the first run of the game. The Korean bench then called on Park Gun-woo (Chungam-go), who retired the first batter he faced on a fly ball to right field to end the inning.
After that, the game went into a lull. South Korea failed to capitalize on its chances in the bottom of the fourth when Yeon Jun-won struck out with runners on second and third, and the Netherlands failed to capitalize in the top of the fifth when leadoff hitter Miguel William walked and was stranded.
Korea also failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the fifth, but the game’s deciding run came in the top of the sixth. Park Gun-woo put runners on second and third with a leadoff single and a wild pitch, but the next batter’s bunt threw out the runner at second.
After striking out for the second out, Park gave the mound to Kim Taek-yeon (Incheon High), who grounded out to second base to end the top of the sixth. The Dutch, who were able to pull within one or two runs, had no choice but to pull away.
Korea held on to its two-run lead until the bottom of the sixth, when leadoff hitter Cho Hyun-min walked and was caught stealing. After Kim struck out two, Jeon Mir (Gyeongbuk High School), who came in from second base, ended the game with a grounder to shortstop.
Yuk Sun-yeop earned the win with 3⅔ innings of five-hit ball, two walks, five strikeouts and one earned run, while Park Gun-woo kept the Dutch off the board with two innings of one-hit ball, one walk and four strikeouts. Park was also the winning pitcher. Kim Taek-yeon and Jeon Mi-do also did their part, pitching one inning of one-hit ball with two strikeouts and a scoreless ⅓ inning, respectively.메이저사이트
At the plate, tablesetters Jung Ahn-seok and Lee Chung-heon went 3-for-2 with a run scored and a walk, respectively, and 2-for-1 with a walk and a run scored. Park Ji-hwan went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Cho Hyun-min went 1-for-2 with a run, two RBI, and a walk.
With the win in the final game of the Super Round to keep their chances alive, South Korea will play the bronze medal game against third-place USA on Tuesday at 3 p.m. ET.