It was a doubleheader that ended in a sweep against arch-rivals Japan.
South Korea’s national youth baseball team, led by Lee Young-bok, suffered a 1-7 defeat against hosts Japan in the first game of the Super Round of the WBSC Baseball World Cup Under-18 (U-18) 2023 on Sunday at the Taipei T&M Stadium in Taipei, Taiwan.
The Koreans came into the Super Round having played Puerto Rico the previous day (June 6) in the final Group A game of the opening round. However, bad weather forced a suspended game in the morning after Korea took a 5-1 lead in the third inning. Korea went on to win 8-1, improving to 4-1 and advancing to the Super Round with a second-place finish in Pool A behind Chinese Taipei.
Korea opened the Super Round with a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon. The first game was against nemesis Japan, who finished second in Group A with a 4-1 record. However, they were unable to overcome the aftermath of the doubleheader and were swept by a series of errors and wild pitches, and their bats went silent.
The Super Round will be decided based on the opening round winners. Korea had one win (Puerto Rico) and one loss (Chinese Taipei) in the opening round, and with today’s loss to Japan, their Super Round record is 1-2.
South Korea started Bae Chan-seung, a sophomore left-hander from Daegu High School. Lee Chung-heon (center field), Jung Ahn-seok (second base), Yeo Dong-gun (first base), Park Ji-hwan (shortstop), Lee Seung-min (left field), Cho Hyun-min (third base), Lee Yul-ye (catcher), Lee Sang-joon (designated hitter) and Yeon Jun-won (right field) completed the starting lineup.
Japan started with Ryusei Terachi (first base), Shuya Yamada (shortstop), Ren Ogata (second base), Haruto Morita (designated hitter), Yuzuki Nakayama (third base), Minato Maruta (center field), Shinnosuke Chibana (right field), Mikito Ogata (catcher), and Koga Hashimoto (left field). Yugo Maeda was the starting pitcher.
메이저놀이터South Korea scored three runs in the top of the second inning on a combination of errors. Morita struck out the first batter of the inning but was stranded at second for the final out. Nakayama’s failed throw to third loaded the bases. She then gave up an infield single to Maruta to put runners on first and second. First baseman Yeo Dong-geon tried to catch the ball, but it slipped behind him and became an infield single. A wild pitch followed, putting runners on first and second and third.
Jivana then hit a two-run triple over the left field fence to score the go-ahead run. Ogata then induced a grounder to the second baseman, but was unable to stop the rush of runners at third base. An out and a run were exchanged and Korea fell behind 0-3.
The Korean bats were unable to capitalize on the opportunity. There was also a boneheaded play. In the top of the third inning, Lee Sang-joon singled to center with the bases loaded, but Yeon Jun-won threw out the runner at second base and the runner at first base couldn’t make it back to first on a bobbled throw, resulting in a double play.
In the top of the fifth inning, they missed their chance. Two batters later, Cho Hyun-min singled up the middle and Lee Yul-yeh followed with a pitch that hit the wrist, putting runners on first and second. However, Lee Sang-joon touched the first pitch and retreated to the center field fence, leaving the runners stranded.
In the top of the sixth inning, they didn’t miss their chance. One out later, Lee Chung-heon led off with a single to right and Jung Ahn-seok tried to lay down a bunt but was thrown out, putting runners on second and third. Yeo Dong-gun then singled to left to put runners on first and third, and Park Ji-hwan, the No. 4 hitter, followed with a single to left. They scored one run. However, with two outs and two runners on base, Kim Tae-hyun, who replaced Lee Seung-min, grounded out to the third baseman.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Bae Chan-seung was hit by a solo shot to left field by leadoff hitter Shuya Yamada. The gap widened to 1-4. Bae left the game after allowing four runs (two earned) on five hits and four walks with seven strikeouts.
The second pitcher was Jeon Mir. He gave up a single to Ren Ogata and a sacrifice bunt to Morita. He then issued a wild pitch and walked Nakayama to put runners on first and third. Maruta induced a pitcher’s interference to get the runner at third, but gave up a two-out, two-run double to Chibana. The gap widened to 6-1.
Back-to-back wild pitches put runners on second and third, and Mikito Ogata singled up the middle. The four runs in the sixth inning made it 7-1. Jeon gave up three runs on three hits and one walk in one inning.
In the top of the seventh inning, there was no reversal. Lee Yul-ye singled and Lee Sang-joon singled to center field to put runners on first and second, but they couldn’t capitalize.
With one loss in the Super Round, South Korea will play the second game of the Super Round against the United States on Monday.