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(Premier 12) Top of S. Korean order unable to set table for big guns

All Headlines 09:42 November 09, 2015

SAPPORO, Japan, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) -- In South Korea's 5-0 loss to Japan in the opening Premier 12 game Sunday, the first two hitters in the order weren't able to do what they were supposed to do: get on base, wreak havoc on the infield with their speed and set the table for the bombers hitting behind them.

Leadoff Lee Yong-kyu and No. 2 hitter Jeong Keun-woo went 0-for-7 with a walk and two strikeouts, with Japanese starter Shohei Otani mowing down South Korean hitters to the tune of 10 strikeouts in six dominant innings.

The heart of the lineup didn't fare much better, as Kim Hyun-soo, Lee Dae-ho and Park Byung-ho struck out six times in 12 at-bats. They did have four hits, but none with a man in scoring position.

On the eve of the game, South Korean manager Kim In-sik pointed to Lee Yong-kyu and Jeong -- teammates on the Hanwha Eagles in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) -- as the two most important hitters against Japan, saying they had to keep getting on base and keep the line moving for the sluggers behind them.

Save for one walk drawn by Jeong, the two speedsters (Lee stole 28 bases and Jeong had 21 steals this past season) didn't give themselves a chance to do any damage.

For Japan, leadoff Shogo Akiyama went hitless in three at-bats, but No. 2 hitter Hayato Sakamoto enjoyed a productive day, going 2-for-3 with a solo home run, two RBIs and two runs scored.

Jeong, also the team captain, said he was trying to put the loss behind him.

"It's disappointing, but it's just one of five games we'll play in the opening round, and it's not the end of the world," he said. "We still have more games to play in Chinese Taipei, and I think we're just getting into the swing of things."

South Korea is scheduled to depart for Chinese Taipei later Monday to continue its opening round play. It will face the Dominican Republic at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Taoyuan in the next Group B match, followed by Venezuela on Thursday, Mexico on Saturday and the United States on Sunday.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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