Go to Contents Go to Navigation

(Olympics) Manager, captain hail teen starter in riveting baseball victory

All News 23:34 August 01, 2021

By Yoo Jee-ho

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Aug. 1 (Yonhap) -- The offense that had been cold on a hot and muggy night in southern Japan had an outburst that few saw coming, as South Korea walked off on the Dominican Republic to open the knockout stage of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament on Sunday.

Captain Kim Hyun-soo came through with the game-winning hit with two outs in the bottom of the ninth at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, south of Tokyo. But both Kim and his manager, Kim Kyung-moon, said the 19-year-old starter Lee Eui-lee deserves major credit for keeping the team in the game.

South Korean players celebrate their 4-3 win over the Dominican Republic in the teams' first round game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 1, 2021. (Yonhap)

"Even though he gave up a home run, he pitched a lot better than expected," the manager said. "That gave us the opportunity to stage the late rally,"

Kim Hyun-soo agreed, saying Lee more than held his own in his first international start at the senior level.

Lee struck out nine in five innings. He threw a wild pitch to let in the game's first run in the first inning, and served up a bomb to Juan Francisco in the fourth. But he still gave South Korea five innings and saved the bullpen ahead of a jampacked schedule of high-stress games.

"My teammates who came on after me did a great job, and our hitters were able to really bear down and score those runs in the ninth," Lee said. "Coaches told me I was only using my arm to throw and not enough of my lower body, and so I tried to pay attention to it."

Five relievers that followed Lee combined for four shutout innings while allowing just two hits. In the ninth, pinch hitter Choi Joo-hwan opned the rally with an infield single, and pinch runner Kim Hye-seong stole second. Park Hae-min's single, followed by Lee Jung-hoo's double, tied the score at 3-3.

Then Kim Hyun-soo came through with South Korea's biggest hit of the Olympics so far.

Lee Jung-hoo of South Korea celebrates his game-tying double against the Dominican Republic in the bottom of the ninth inning of the teams' first round game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 1, 2021. (Yonhap)

"I had a single off a fastball in my previous at-bat, and I expected to see a changeup (from pitcher Luis Castillo)," Kim said. "I decided to wait and see how much it would drop. Then when another changeup came, I was able to put a good swing on it."

Kim, who played in left field, had a conference with center fielder Park Hae-min and right fielder Lee Jung-hoo during late-inning pitching changes. According to Lee, Kim kept telling them that there would be a chance to come back and that they should capitalize on it.

All three got a hit to write the ninth-inning drama.

"We met every time there was a pitching change, from the seventh inning and on," Lee said. "Although we were trailing the whole time, we believed we would get at least one opportunity. We really tried hard to pounce on that chance (in the ninth)."

South Korean starter Lee Eui-lee pitches against the Dominican Republic in the top of the first inning of the teams' first round game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 1, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea will next play Israel at 12 noon Monday, back at Yokohama. The winner moves on to the semifinals, and the loser falls to the repechage bracket and will play the Dominican Republic.

Asked about players' fatigue, manager Kim said, "They may be tired, but hopefully not too much because we won this game in such dramatic fashion. It won't be easy but we'll prepare the best we can."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

Keywords
HOME TOP
Send Feedback
How can we improve?
Thanks for your feedback!