South Korea pulled off a last-minute victory over Taiwan with a 3-2 victory in the eighth inning at the Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in a nailbiting battle for advancement to the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Despite the loss for Taiwan, who had maintained the lead for most of the game, the home side still advance to the next round on the strength of their 8-3 win over the Netherlands on Sunday.
In front of the sellout crowd of 23,341, Taiwan’s Yang Dai-kang (陽岱鋼) took advantage of a mishandled ball by South Korean outfielder Kim Hyun Soo on a single by Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝) and scored all the way from first to give the home team a 1-0 lead in the top of the third.
Taiwan doubled their lead in the fourth when Yang’s two-out single bounced over the outstretched glove of South Korean second baseman Jeong Keun-woo to score Kuo Yen-wen (郭嚴文), who doubled off starter Chang Won Jun to put himself in scoring position.
Taiwan managed to hold the two-run lead through the seventh until South Korea finally found their groove in the bottom of the eighth as the offense erupted for three runs off Taiwanese reliever Kuo Hung-chih (郭泓志), highlighted by Kang Jung Ho’s two-run home run that made it 3-2.
In an earlier game in Taichung, Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer to lead the Netherlands to a 4-1 win over Australia yesterday, securing a place in the second round.
“Robbie [Cordemans] pitched a great game. Five innings and no runs,” Dutch head coach Hensley Meulens said.
“That was the key to our win today. The guys scored early to give him a bit of breathing room. The rest of the bullpen did a good job, too,” he added.
Outfielder Roger Bernadina earned the first run by hitting a single to center field in the first inning and the Netherlands stretched the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second inning.
Curt Smith led off with a single to the center, followed by a single from Dashenko Ricardo before they advanced to the second and third bases on an error. Smith came back after Andrelton Simmons grounded out.
Then Schoop launched a two-run homer to the left.
Australia managed to pull one back when infielder Brad Harman hit a single to the left to welcome Stefan Welch from the second base in the seventh inning.
In the four-team Pool A round robin in Fukuoka, China gained a consolation win by beating Brazil 5-2, after two-time champions Japan and Cuba already qualified for the second round a day earlier.
Trailing 0-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, China pulled one back on a walk with the three bases occupied, and then fourth batter Ray Chang fired a two-run single to the left to take a 3-2 lead.
Two teams will emerge from the five-day Asian second round, starting on Friday, and will fight it out with the top sides from pools C and D, held in Puerto Rico and Arizona, in the final series in San Francisco later this month.
Additional reporting by AFP