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(2nd LD) (Asiad) S. Korea beats China to set up rematch for baseball gold

All Headlines 22:09 September 27, 2014

(ATTN: CHANGES headlines; UPDATES throughout with S. Korean victory; ADD photo)
By Yoo Jee-ho and Kim Boram

INCHEON, Sept. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea defeated China 7-2 to reach its second consecutive Asian Games baseball final on Saturday, setting itself up for a rematch of the gold medal game four years ago.

Cleanup Park Byung-ho launched a three-run shot to break the game open in the sixth after the defending champ struggled to put runs on board against the underdog China at Munhak Baseball Stadium.

South Korea will take on Chinese Taipei at 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the same ballpark. At the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, South Korea knocked down Chinese Taipei 9-3 for the gold.

(2nd LD) (Asiad) S. Korea beats China to set up rematch for baseball gold - 2

The game began ominiously enough for South Korea, which had breezed through the preliminary round with three wins, scoring 37 runs while giving up none. In the first inning, Kang Jung-ho hit a single to left, but Kim Hyun-soo, trying to score from second, was gunned down by left fielder Yang Shunyi.

South Korea did get on board in the bottom second but committed another base-running gaffe. Min Byung-hun hit a double to right with the bases full, easily scoring Na Sung-bum from third. Hwang Jae-gyun, the runner on second, had to put on his brakes halfway between home and first before getting tagged out.

South Korean starter Lee Jae-hak retired the first seven batters he faced, four of them on strikeouts, but got into trouble in the third, when Cui Xiao hit a game-tying double to left.

Kang Jung-ho broke the tie with a solo shot in the bottom of the third, but the Chinese answered right back with Yang Shunyi's RBI double in the top of the fourth, making it a 2-2 affair.

South Korea manufactured two runs in the fifth. Park Byung-ho led off the inning with a single and later reached third after a steal and a wild pitch. Na Sung-bum drove him home with a single.

Na then tried to steal second and came all the way home on a throwing error by catcher Wang Wei. The ball trickled into the outfield and Wang mishandled the throw home as Na slid into the plate.

Then Park Byung-ho, who leads the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) with 48 homers this year, delivered the knockout punch in the sixth. Lou Xia walked the first two batters he faced in the inning, and Park drove the first pitch he saw over left centerfield for a 7-2 lead.

Park was 2-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Na Sung-bum contributed three hits, and Hwang Jae-gyun, starting at third base in place of Kim Min-sung, was 4-for-4.

Starter Lee Jae-hak gave up both of the Chinese runs on four hits in four innings but struck out five. Lee Tae-yang, who relieved him to start the fifth, tossed four scoreless innings with just one hit and five strikeouts.

China sent five pitchers to the mount, but they gave up 13 hits.

Earlier on Saturday, Chinese Taipei defeated Japan 10-4.

Kuo Yen Wen hit a three-run home run in the seven-run second inning, and Chiang Chih Hsien went 3-for-5 with two runs scored to pace Chinese Taipei's offense.

Cheng Kai Wen for Chinese Taipei, in relief of the starter Hu Chih Wei, held Japan to one run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings to get the victory.

When asked about his starting pitcher for the final, Chinese Taipei manager Lu Ming Tsu kept his cards close to his chest.

"I can't reveal the pitcher just yet," Lu said. "You will find out tomorrow."

Lu has some arms with U.S. minor league experience in his arsenal.

"I only used two pitchers today, and I will have eight of them ready to throw tomorrow," the manager added. "They're all determined to win the gold medal and will all do their best."

jeeho@yna.co.kr

brk@yna.co.kr
(END)

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