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Samsung Lions beat SoftBank Hawks to win Asia Series

All Headlines 23:59 November 29, 2011

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, Nov. 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Samsung Lions beat SoftBank Hawks of Japan 5-3 to capture the Asia Series tournament in a battle of league champions.

At Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, the Lions, the 2011 champion of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) overcame an early deficit against the Hawks, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) champion. Samsung's starter Jang Won-sam settled down after a shaky start and the bullpen took care of the rest, as the Lions became the first KBO club to win the Asia Series since it began in 2005. The Lions also avenged a 9-0 loss to the Hawks in the round-robin phase of this tournament.

Trailing 1-0 with just one hit off Hawks' starter Sho Iwasaki through four innings, the Lions finally solved the Japanese right-hander with five runs in the top fifth.

After a single, a hit by pitch and a walk loaded the bases, Jung Hyeong-sik lined a single up the middle to put the Lions up 2-1.

Park Seok-min followed with a ground-rule double over the left field fence to make it 3-1. Then against a new pitcher Yang Yao-Hsun, Kang Bong-gyu hit a single that deflected off the glove of shortstop Munenori Kawasaki to build a 5-1 lead for Samsung.

The Lions blew a chance to pad their lead in the sixth, when Jung hit into a 4-2-3 double play with one out and bases loaded.

Iwasaki lasted 4 1/3 innings and got tagged with five earned runs to take the loss.

The Hawks wasted little time getting on board, as their cleanup Nobuhiro Matsuda drilled a run-scoring double down the left field line in the bottom of the first off Jang.

But Jang didn't give up a run the rest of the way. He ended up throwing 6 1/3 innings giving up five hits and striking out three for the win.

The Hawks put two runners on in the bottom seventh, but Samsung's right-hander Jong Hyun-wook, in relief of Jang, induced two fly outs to end the threat.

The NPB team did pick up a pair of runs after loading the bases in the next frame, on a double play grounder by Matsuda and a single by Yuya Hasegawa. But that was as close as they could get on this night.

This year's Asia Series brought together league champions from South Korea, Japan, Australia and host Taiwan. In the round-robin stage, the Lions beat Perth Heat of Australian Baseball League (ABL) and Uni-President Lions of Taiwan's Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), but lost to the Hawks.

The Asia Series began in 2005 with champions from South Korea, Japan, Taiwan and either an all-star team or the league champion from China. Konami, a Japanese game company, sponsored the tournament from 2005 to 2008, but it pulled out after 2008, citing declining interest

In 2009, the KBO and the NPB held a single club championship match in Japan and the KBO, NPB and CPBL champions met in Taiwan the following year. Both of those events, however, weren't called the Asia Series.

The 2012 Asia Series is scheduled to come to South Korea.

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