South Korea’s baseball team faced a “thorny road” to gold at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games as they were swept aside by their biggest opponents, Chinese Taipei.
Ryu Joong-il’s men were stymied by left-handed Chinese Taipei starter Lin Yeou-min in their second Group B game at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre 1 in Zhejiang province, China, on Tuesday, losing 0-4.
Chinese Taipei booked the top spot in Group B with two wins, while Korea, with a 1-1 record, will have to settle for second place in the group and a spot in the Super Round.
Chinese Taipei will play Hong Kong (1-1) in their final group game on 3 March, while Korea will host Thailand (2-1).
The Super Round, which pits Group A’s first and second place finishers against Group B’s first and second place finishers, will be based on group standings.
With Chinese Taipei starting with one win and Korea with one loss, the pressure is on Korea to beat both Japan and China in Group A, who have already qualified for the Super Round, if they are to reach the final.
The must-win loss to Chinese Taipei cast a dark cloud over South Korea’s hopes of winning a fourth consecutive Asian Games title.
After weighing up Kwak Bin (Doosan Bears) and Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles), coach Ryu Joong-il chose Moon Dong-ju, who had rested his shoulder well, as his must-win starter against Chinese Taipei.
Moon, who was making his senior international debut after a month out of action since 3 September, was immediately in trouble in the top of the first inning when he was hit by a double to left-centre by Chung Tung-zer.
He appeared to put out the fire by getting Lin Zhiwei to ground out and Lin Li to strike out on three pitches, but on a two-ball, two-strike count, he threw a high curveball to Lin Anger for a three-run homer to right.
Moon Dong-joo cooked Wu Yending on a grounder to shortstop and took a breather.
South Korea missed a chance to turn the tide after the change of ends.
In the top of the second inning, Yoon Dong-hui (Lotte Giants) opened the scoring with a two-run double off Taiwanese left-handed starter Lin Yeou-min, who plays in the minor leagues for the Arizona Diamondbacks of Major League Baseball (MLB).
Park Sung-seong (SSG Landers) followed with a walk, and Kim Hyung-joon (NC Dinos) and Kim Sung-yoon (Samsung Lions) were retired on back-to-back grounders to put runners on first and second. Kim Sung-yoon hit an infield single in front of the first baseman and made a head-first sliding catch, but was ruled out.
After back-to-back strikeouts by No. 3 Noh Shi-hwan (Hanwha) and No. 4 Kang Baek-ho (KT WIZ) with runners on first and second in the third inning, Korea piled up five extra bases as Yoon Dong-hee singled up the middle to put runners on first and second in the fourth inning.
With no support from the batting line-up, Moon Dong-ju, who had been pitching well, was unable to avoid a run.
After retiring two or three straight batters, he gave up an infield single and a walk in the fourth to put runners on second and third with Sun Hao-wei at the plate.
His curveball hit the ground first and trickled towards the backstop.
After Park Se-woong (Lotte), who received the baton from Moon Dong-joo, walked two batters in the fifth inning to load the bases, Korea’s third pitcher, Choi Ji-min (KIA Tigers), cooked Lin Anger into a grounder to first base and barely escaped the inning.
After getting out of a jam with runners on second and third in the sixth on a three-pitch strikeout by fourth starter Park Young-hyun (KT), the Koreans found themselves in even more trouble in the seventh when right-hander Gurin Ruii-yang, Taiwan’s second pitcher, retired the side in order.
Two batters later in the eighth, Noh Si-hwan led off with a double over the centre-field fence, but Kang Baek-ho was thrown out at shortstop to end South Korea’s last real chance of a comeback.
In the bottom of the eighth, the fifth pitcher, Ko Woo-seok (LG Twins), gave up a double and a wild pitch before giving up a double to Lin Zhihao with runners on second and third.
Moon Dong-joo took the loss after giving up two runs on three hits in four innings.
Lin Yeo-min, whose fastball was only in the low 140s, was the hero of the game as she struck out six and walked none in six innings of work with precise control to the corners.
Chinese Taipei, who fielded an elite squad of 17 professional players from the United States and their home country, dominated the game in both batting frames. 스포츠토토