After suffering a “blowout” loss to Chinese Taipei, coach Liu Zhong-il’s Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) team has a better chance of reaching the final. China defeated Japan.
South Korea cruised to a 17-0 five-inning victory over Thailand in the third game of their Group B matchup at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Wednesday at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center 2 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China.
South Korea started the tournament on a high note with a 10-0 eight-inning cold game victory over Hong Kong in the first game of the day, but the outcome of the second game against Chinese Taipei was a bit of a shocker. Despite the mound holding the Chinese Taipei bats to minimal runs, the bats struggled to produce a single run. Aside from three hits from Yoon Dong-hee and two from Choi Ji-hoon, the Korean bats were unable to generate much offense. The result was a 0-4 loss, their third straight against Chinese Taipei in recent international competition.
While the loss to Chinese Taipei was bound to sour the mood, Korea still punched their ticket to the Super Round. Na Gyun-an pitched four shutout innings on day three, and the bats pounded out 11 hits, including three home runs, against the ‘inferior’ Thai mound to complete a 17-run rally in the bottom of the fourth inning, before Kim Young-kyu came on in the top of the fifth and pitched a scoreless inning to seal the cold game victory.
With two wins in the group stage, Korea secured a spot in the Super Round regardless of the outcome of the matchup between Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong, but here’s the good news. The biggest upset of the tournament occurred. China defeated Japan 1-0 in their final Group A game. Japan was a team of unemployed players from a social baseball program, but they were not to be underestimated.
But China was stronger. Most of the players on the Chinese team at the Hangzhou Asian Games also competed at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, where they held Japan to just three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning in their group game. They lost 1-8, but played better than South Korea, who nearly went cold.
China’s victory over Japan means that they will advance to the Super Round with three wins and no losses in Group A, which is good news for the Korean team. It’s still a case of ‘what if’, but it’s certainly a little easier. Initially, South Korea was wary of Taiwan and Japan, and a big win in the Korea-Japan game was essential, especially if Japan was to go through the group stage with three wins and no losses. However, China’s upset of Japan made their path to the final a little easier.
Once the “Liu Zhong-il Ho” defeats both China and Japan in the Super Round, Taiwan will have to defeat both China and Japan to advance to the final. Even if Chinese Taipei loses to China, South Korea can still advance if they beat China by a large margin. South Korea didn’t give up many points in their Group B loss to Chinese Taipei, so it’s safe to say that a big win over China and a win over Japan would punch their ticket to the finals.
China’s victory over Japan also finalized the Super Round schedule. South Korea will have five days off before facing Japan in the first game of the Super Round on June 6, followed by China on June 7. For South Korea to improve their chances of reaching the final, the batting lineup must wake up. While they picked up cold-game wins against Hong Kong and Thailand, they were both inferior teams. The mounds of the teams in the Super Round are no match for them.
The role of Kang Baek-ho is essential. This year, after taking some time off for various reasons, Kang returned to the first team and showed off his hot bat. In fact, before his call-up to the Hangzhou Asian Games, Lee Kang-cheol repeatedly said that it was a “waste”. However, Kang’s performance in the group stage did not live up to expectations. In three games, he went 1-for-11 with a .091 batting average. His silence against Hong Kong was particularly devastating, as he went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
After failing to hit Hong Kong’s pitchers, Kang’s struggles continued against Chinese Taipei, where he struck out against a Thai pitcher in the final game of the group stage. His only hit in the KBO was a line drive that would have been a diving catch and likely a grounder to the second baseman.스포츠토토
It’s not just Kang Baek-ho. The firepower of Kim Sung-yoon (0.125), Moon Bo-kyung (0.200), Park Sung-seong (0.167), and Kim Hyung-jun (0.143), who started all three games and wore a catcher’s mask in two of them, was clearly lacking. With Kwak-Bin’s status for the Super Round uncertain due to a bout with the flu, Korea will need to rely on their firepower to punch their ticket to the final.
As it stands, it is very likely that South Korea will have a return match against either China or Chinese Taipei if they make it to the final. It will be interesting to see if South Korea, who suffered a blowout loss to Chinese Taipei, can make it four straight finals appearances with a strong showing from China. For now, South Korea has good memories from the WBC, where they set a new record for most runs scored in a single game with a 22-2 thrashing of China.