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(LEAD) (Olympics) S. Korea falls to bronze medal game in baseball after loss to U.S.

All News 22:33 August 05, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS details, photos)
By Yoo Jee-ho

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Aug. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will not get to defend its baseball gold medal after wasting its second opportunity to reach the final on Thursday.

South Korea lost to the United States 7-2 in the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament.

The loss at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, sent South Korea to the bronze medal game against the Dominican Republic at noon Saturday.

South Korea defeated the Dominican Republic 4-3 to begin the knockout phase last Sunday.

After losing to Japan in the first semifinals game on Wednesday, South Korea fell to the loser's bracket to play the U.S., which earlier won a repechage match over the Dominican Republic.

The U.S. will now play Japan with the gold medal at stake.

South Korean starter Lee Eui-lee reacts to a solo home run hit by Jamie Westbrook of the United States in the teams' semifinal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

After South Korea failed to capitalize on a one-out double in the first, Jack Lopez knocked in the game's first run for the U.S. in the bottom second.

Mark Kolozsvary walked with one out and stole second base. Lopez then brought him home with a single up the middle, though he was thrown out trying to advance to second on a throw to home plate.

Jamie Westbrook doubled the American lead with a solo home run off Lee in the bottom fourth. South Korea challenged the call, as the ball hooked left as it landed in the upper deck, but the video replay confirmed that the ball was fair.

Kim Hyun-soo of South Korea reacts to an RBI single by Jack Lopez of the United States in the bottom of the sixth inning of the teams' semifinal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea cut the two-run deficit in half in the top fifth. A hit-by-pitch and a single put runners at the corners for Park Hae-min, who slapped a single to left to make it 2-1.

The hit chased Joe Ryan from the game, but South Korea couldn't get any closer, as Kang Baek-ho bounced into a 4-6-3 inning-ending twin killing against the new pitcher Ryder Ryan.

The U.S. made South Korea pay and blew the game wide open in the bottom sixth, scoring five runs off five relievers.

Cho Sang-woo of South Korea leaves the mound after allowing a two-run single to Tyler Austin of the United States in the bottom of the sixth inning of the teams' semifinal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

Choi Won-joon walked Todd Frazier to begin the inning and was pulled in favor of left-hander Cha Woo-chan.

Cha struck out lefty Eric Filia and gave way to Won Tae-in, who failed to record an out. Two straight singles off Won restored a two-run lead for the U.S. at 3-1.

The floodgates weren't even open yet. Won was gone after a walk that loaded the bases, and Cho Sang-woo, the fourth pitcher of the inning, promptly gave up an RBI single to Jack Lopez.

Eddy Alvarez cashed in another run with a groundout to first. And Tyler Austin knocked Cho out of the game with a two-run single to shallow center.

Park Kun-woo of South Korea reacts after striking out against the United States in the top of the fourth inning of the teams' semifinal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

By the time Kim Jin-uk struck out Triston Casas to end the inning, the U.S. was up 7-1.

Oh Ji-hwan got a run back for South Korea in the top seventh with a double to center, but Westbrook's homer notwithstanding, Lee Eui-lee, pitching on three days' rest, did his best to keep South Korea in the game. He struck out nine batters in five innings, including at least one in every inning.

But the inconsistent offense failed him, and the bullpen's meltdown put South Korea into too deep of a hole.

Park Hae-min of South Korea (L) stays on the ground after a double play hit by Kang Baek-ho against the United States in the top of the fifth inning of the teams' semifinal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 5, 2021. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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