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(Olympics) S. Korea loses to U.S. in baseball, finishes 2nd in group

Sports 21:52 July 31, 2021

YOKOHAMA, Japan, July 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea lost to the United States 4-2 on Saturday to finish second in Group B in the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament, after getting hurt by long balls for the second straight game.

South Korean starter Ko Young-pyo gave up two home runs, while the offense struck out 14 times against five American pitchers at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Kang Baek-ho of South Korea returns to the dugout after striking out against the United States in the top of the sixth inning of the teams' Group B game in the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea will play its first knockout game against the Group A runner-up, the Dominican Republic, at 7 p.m. Sunday. The game will also be in Yokohama. The U.S. will next face Japan on Monday.

South Korea opened the scoring with an RBI fielder's choice by Kim Hyun-soo. With runners at the corners, Kim chopped a groundball to second for what could have been a double play. But Kim busted down the line and beat the throw to first base as Park Hae-min crossed the plate for a 1-0 South Korean lead.

South Korean starter Ko Young-pyo held the U.S. to a single over the first three innings, relying on his beguiling changeup to induce whiffs and soft contact.

South Korean pitcher Ko Young-pyo reacts to a solo home run hit by Nick Allen of the United States in the bottom of the fifth inning of the teams' Group B game in the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

U.S. starter Nick Martinez matched Ko pitch for pitch. After allowing two hits and a run in the first inning, the right-hander kept South Korea to one hit over the next three innings, while striking out seven batters.

Ko blinked in the bottom fourth. He hit Eddy Alvarez to begin that inning, and two batters later, Triston Casas blasted a go-ahead two-run home run.

Ko came undone by another homer in the fifth. He struck out the first two batters and then allowed a solo home run to Nick Allen. Ko was pulled after a single by Jamie Westbrook.

The Americans jumped on the new pitcher, Go Woo-suk. Alvarez's single put runners at the corners for Tyler Austin, who brought Westbrook home with a single up the middle for a 4-1 U.S. lead.

South Korean bats were mostly silenced, and a promising rally in the top of the ninth only yielded a run.

Kang Baek-ho drew a walk from closer David Robertson, and Yang Eui-ji followed up with a double that put runners at second and third.

Oh Jae-il brought in a run with a sacrifice fly, but a strikeout and a groundout ended the game for South Korea.

Kim Hye-seong of South Korea hits a single against the United States in the top of the fifth inning of the teams' Group B game in the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on July 31, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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