Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 19 News List

S Korea put paid to struggling Mexico

TWO ASIAN TIGERS: The victory set up a rematch between South Korea and Japan, who were even at one game apiece from their first-round meetings

AFP , SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA

Jeong Keun-woo of South Korea throws for a double play after tagging out Jorge Cantu of Mexico during the World Baseball Classic in San Diego, California, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AFP

Kim Tae-kyun belted a home run and a two-run single to help power South Korea past Mexico 8-2 on Sunday and within a victory of reaching the semi-finals of the World Baseball Classic.

Young Min-ko and Lee Bum-ho also homered for the South Koreans, who will face Japan today for a berth in next weekend’s semi-finals at Los Angeles after the defending Classic champions blanked Cuba 6-0 in an earlier game.

In Tokyo’s first-round bracket, Japan defeated South Korea 14-2 in their first meeting but lost 1-0 to the reigning Olympic champions in a rematch to determine the Asian top seed for round two.

Mexico was next to face Cuba yesterday with the loser ousted under the double elimination format. The Cubans, runners-up in the 2006 inaugural Classic, beat the Mexicans 16-4 in the first round at Mexico City.

Kim, the South Korean’s top first-round hitter with a .417 average and six runs batted in, smashed a towering homer over the left-field wall in the fourth inning to give South Korea a 3-2 lead.

Young, who entered in the fifth to play at second base, launched the first pitch he saw for a homer to left field with two out in the fifth to boost South Korea’s edge.

South Korean relief pitcher Jong Hyun-wook escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Scott Hairston and inducing a Jorge Vazquez ground out. Mexican Rafael Diaz answered in the sixth, blanking South Korea with the bases loaded.

South Korea broke open the game with four runs in the seventh starting with Kim’s two-run single to left. Lee Yong-kyu hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly and Park Ki-hyuk added an RBI single for the final South Korean runs.

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