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(Premier12) U.S. beats Chinese Taipei, nudges S. Korea toward Olympic berth

All Headlines 16:26 November 15, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

TOKYO, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) -- The United States defeated Chinese Taipei 3-2 in an Olympic baseball qualifying tournament on Friday, pushing South Korea to the verge of clinching a spot in the 2020 Summer Games.

Brent Rooker launched a go-ahead two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh to lift the U.S. to its second victory in the Super Round at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo.

The Premier12 is also the Olympic qualification event for Asia/Oceania and the Americas. Only the top teams from those regions will get to play at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In this AFP photo, players of the United States celebrate their 3-2 victory over Chinese Taipei in the Super Round at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on Nov. 15, 2019. (Yonhap)

With Japan already in the Olympics as the host country, South Korea must finish ahead of Chinese Taipei and Australia to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Thanks to Chinese Taipei's loss, South Korea can clinch the Asian/Oceanian berth by beating Mexico later Friday at Tokyo Dome.

The U.S. opened the scoring in the bottom first, as Andrew Vaughn's RBI single scored Jo Adell for a 1-0 lead. And Chinese Taipei tied the score at 1-1 in the top of the third on a double play groundball by Jhang Jin-De.

Chinese Taipei broke the tie in the top of the sixth with Hu Chin-Lung's solo home run. But in the bottom seventh, after Erik Kratz's single, Rooker took starter Wu Sheng-Feng deep over the left field fence for a 3-2 American lead.

Noah Song pitched a perfect eighth, and Brandon Dickson took care of the ninth for the save.

In this AFP photo, Brent Rooker of the United States rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against Chinese Taipei in the bottom of the seventh inning in the Super Round at the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on Nov. 15, 2019. (Yonhap)

Chinese Taipei fell to 1-3, with one match against Australia (1-3) remaining on Saturday. South Korea is 2-1.

But if South Korea drops its two remaining games and Chinese Taipei beats Australia on Saturday, then South Korea and Chinese Taipei will end up at 2-3, with Australia out of Olympic contention.

The U.S. has finished the tournament at 2-3. And the three countries tied with that same record would need a tiebreaking formula called Team's Quality Balance, based on the number of runs scored and allowed.

After four games apiece, the top two teams will meet in the championship final, while the No. 3 and No. 4 teams will square off in the third-place game, both scheduled for Sunday at Tokyo Dome.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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