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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- South Korea blanked Cuba 6-0 in the first official baseball game at a brand new dome in the nation's capital on Wednesday.
The host tagged on three runs in the bottom first and never looked back, cruising to a breezy victory at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.
It was the first of two games between the countries. The second game will start at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the same venue. Both teams are preparing for the inaugural Premier 12 tournament, which begins Sunday with a game between South Korea and Japan at Sapporo Dome.
South Korea jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Son Ah-seop hit a single up the middle to drive in the first run, after Cuban starter Yoennis Yera intentionally walked cleanup Park Byung-ho to get to Son with men at first and second, and the right fielder made the Cuban pitcher pay.
Na Sung-bum delivered another single, making it 2-0 South Korea. Then with runners at first and second, Yera walked two straight batters to give South Korea a 3-0 advantage.
Yera was chased from the game after recording just two outs.
South Korea added a run in the fifth on a wild pitch by Danny Betancourt, Cuba's third pitcher of the game. The home team then took advantage of sloppy Cuban defense to increase its lead.
Lee Yong-kyu drew a one-out walk and advanced to third on a single by Jeong Keun-woo. When Jeong made a wide turn at first, third baseman Yulieski Gurriel made a wild throw to first that skipped past Alexander Malleta at the bag, allowing Lee to come home for South Korea's fifth run.
Jeong moved to second on the play, and came home to make it 6-0 South Korea on a single by Min Byung-hun.
Five South Korean pitchers held Cuba to just four singles. Left-handed Kim Kwang-hyun tossed three shutout innings, scattering three hits while striking out two before handing things over to right-hander Rhee Dae-eun, who followed up with four perfect innings and was credited with the victory.
Left-hander Jung Woo-ram had a three-up, three-down eighth. Then right-hander Cho Mu-keun retired two batters in the ninth, and Lim Chang-min retired Lourdes Gurriel for the game's final out.
At the plate, Kim Hyun-soo, four days after helping the Doosan Bears win the Korean Series, went 2-for-3 with two doubles and two runs scored from the No. 3 spot. His Doosan teammate Min Byung-hun had two singles and an RBI off the bench.
South Korean manager Kim In-sik said his players exceeded his expectations but guarded against premature optimism.
"Kim Kwang-hyun and Rhee Dae-eun pitched well, but some hard-hit balls went right at our fielders," Kim said. "Cuba was unlucky in that regard."
Losing manager Victor Mesa took the loss in stride, saying his players are just getting ready for the Premier 12.
"This was the first live game for us before the Premier 12," he said. "It was an opportunity for us to face some good pitching."
South Korea will start sidearm pitcher Woo Kyu-min on Thursday, and Cuba will start right-hander Yosvany Torres.
The 18,000-seat Gocheok Sky Dome attracted 14,039 fans on Wednesday.
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