Korea scored three runs in the first inning against Australia and Seung Song made the advantage stand up in a 6-0 victory over punchless Australia. The Blue Bogy was much more effective on defence and received the timely hits they were missing against the Netherlands two days prior.
Song utilised a filthy splitter to keep the Baseballroos swinging on pitches out of the zone, striking out five and scattering four baserunners in four innings. He retired six in-a-row late in his outing.
The Korean lineup gave him a 3-0 advantage before he ever took the mound as the first seven batters of the inning reached base. Seung-Yeop Lee ripped a double in the inning and Hyun-Soo Kim had a two-run single against Ryan Searle, who walked two and hit one in the frame.
Korea was back at it again in the second. Yong-Kyu Lee started things off with a single to left and came around on another two-bagger by Lee. Searle got out of the inning, but the four-run advantage was too much for an Australian offence that failed to put a rally in motion throughout the game.
Searle struggled through three innings before giving way to Steven Kent, who pitched two strong innings. The left-hander gave up only one hit to Dae-Ho Lee, erasing the slugger on a double play. He struck out one.
Australia had its best chance in the fifth inning. Tim Kennelly worked a seven-pitch at bat for a double, but Allan de San Miguel struck out after working a 3-0 count. James Beresford then blooped a hit to left centre, but Kennelly could not advance and reliever Hee-Soo Park got Mitch Dening to fly out to right and then struck out No. 3 hitter Luke Hughes.
Clayton Tanner put the blue-and-white away in the sixth, but Kyung-Eun Noh struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the bottom of the frame to prevent Australia from lessening the deficit.
Korea added another run in the seventh. Yong-Kyu Lee had his second hit to start things off, with Keun-Woo Jeong replacing him on a fielder’s choice. Dae-Ho Lee singled the run home and the Blue Bogy grabbed a 5-0 lead.
Australia’s struggles continued against Korea’s reliever in the seventh, despite a Kennelly leadoff hit. Noh and Tae-Hyon Chong teamed up to retire the final three batters.
Korea loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, and Jeong crushed a pitch to left field, but the wind blew it down and Australia escaped with no further damage.
The Aussies had their only other real opportunity in the bottom of the inning after Stefan Welch blooped a ball that landed in shallow left centre. Yong-Kyu Lee made a last-second attempt after Hi-Hyon Son pulled away at the last minute. Welch advanced to third on a ground ball, but Seung Lak-Son would retire Mike Walker, who had two hits on the day, to end the threat. It was the only time Australia had a runner reach third.
Korea struck a final time in the ninth off Ryan Rowland-Smith, who spent several years in the Seattle Mariners’ rotation. Seung-Yeop Lee led off with a safety and advanced to second on a single by Dae-Ho Lee, later scoring on a grounder by Jeong Choi. James Beresford made a nice play for the out, backing up a diving Welch at third and catching the ball after it tipped of Welch’s glove and nailing Choi by a step.
Son finished off the shutout by striking out two batters in the ninth. Park got four outs, two by strikeout and Noh struck out two-of-five batters in relief. Chong and Son finished off the game. Korean hurlers whiffed 12 batters and were backed up flawlessly by a defence which had committed four errors against the Netherlands.
Korea was 4-for-9 with runners in scoring position after going hitless against the Netherlands in the same situation. Australia was 1-for-11 in their attempts to drive men home from second or third.
Seung-Yeop Lee and Dae-Ho Lee both had three hits and a RBI. Yong-Kyu Lee reached base four times, twice on hits. Ah-Seop Son reached base in all four plate appearances.
Seven hurlers toed the rubber for Australia. Searle gave up four runs on four hits and two walks, striking out two. Kent was easily the most effective reliever, though Tanner (1 IP), Brad Thomas (1/3 IP), and Matthew Williams (2/3 IP) did not allow a run. Kennelly reached base in all three plate appearances and joined Walker with a brace of hits.
Barring a surprising turn of events, Australia will be eliminated from the Classic and will have to win their final match to avoid relegation to the qualifiers. The Aussies will take on the Netherlands in their final contest on only 18 hours rest. First pitch is at 4:30 a.m. GMT on Mar. 5. Korea will face Chinese Taipei, who is undefeated in Pool B action. The showdown between the Asian arch-rivals is set for 11:30 a.m. on Mar. 5.
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