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(LEAD) (Olympics) S. Korea misses out on baseball bronze with loss to Dominican Republic

All News 16:11 August 07, 2021

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

YOKOHAMA, Japan, Aug. 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea blew a late lead and lost to the Dominican Republic 10-6 in the bronze medal game of the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament Saturday, after coming within six outs of its second straight Olympic medal.

Closer Oh Seung-hwan allowed five runs in the top of the eighth as a 6-5 lead for South Korea turned into a 10-6 deficit at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, south of Tokyo.

Oh Seung-hwan of South Korea leaves the mound after giving up five runs against the Dominican Republic in the top of the eighth inning of the bronze medal game at the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

South Korea won the gold in 2008, the last time baseball was contested at the Olympics. This year, South Korea lost to Japan in the semifinals and then to the United States in the repechage semifinals to drop into the bronze medal game.

The Dominicans scored four runs in the first, but South Korea gradually ate into the deficit before taking the 6-5 lead with a four-run fifth.

But the Dominican bats pounded Oh, a former major league closer who looked utterly overmatched. A wild pitch with the bases loaded brought in the tying run, and Juan Francisco broke the tie with a two-run double.

Johan Mieses landed the knockout punch with a two-run homer to left, and the Dominicans hung on to beat South Korea for the medal.

Yang Eui-ji of South Korea (L) reacts to a two-run double by Juan Francisco of the Dominican Republic during the top of the eighth inning of the bronze medal game at the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

The Dominicans came to play ball from the opening inning. They batted around and scored four times on four hits, two walks and a sacrifice fly, with Julio Rodriguez and Juan Francisco each blasting towering home runs off starter Kim Min-woo.

Kim only retired one batter before being chased from the game.

South Korea scored its first run in the bottom second on Park Kun-woo's RBI single to center. Kim Hyun-soo's line drive solo home run to right made it a 4-2 game in the bottom fourth.

The Dominican Republic restored its three-run lead with Melky Cabrera's double in the top fifth. But that only set the stage for a South Korean comeback in the bottom half of that inning.

South Korea scored the first run of the fifth with three straight singles, the third being an RBI hit by Park Hae-min that made it 5-3 and knocked starter Raul Valdes out of the game.

Another run scored when the new pitcher Luis Castillo bobbled a soft comebacker by Hur Kyoung-min. Park stole third with Lee Jung-hoo at the plate, and scored the tying run on a wild pitch by the new reliever, Dario Alvarez.

Kim Min-woo of South Korea (R) reacts to a two-run home run by Julio Rodriguez of the Dominican Republic during the top of the first inning of the bronze medal game at the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

After Lee struck out, South Korea drew two straight walks. Then with another reliever, Cristopher Mercedes, on the mound, Kang Baek-ho drove in the go-ahead run with a single to center.

Reliever Cho Sang-woo pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and pitched around a one-out single in the seventh to keep South Korea in front.

In came Oh, who was tasked with protecting the one-run lead the way he's done throughout his illustrious career.

But the right-hander gave up a leadoff single to No. 9 hitter, Jeison Guzman. After a sacrifice bunt, another single and then a walk loaded the bases for Francisco.

A wild pitch made it a 6-6 tie, and then Francisco cashed in two more runners to put the Dominicans ahead 8-6.

Oh Ji-hwan of South Korea strikes out against the Dominican Republic during the bottom of the second inning of the bronze medal game at the Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament at Yokohama Stadium in Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 7, 2021. (Yonhap)

Mieses' no-doubter of a two-run shot to left all but sealed South Korea's fate.

South Korea tried to rally in the bottom ninth against Mercedes, as the first two batters reached with a single and a double.

Jose Diaz took over from Mercedes, getting pinch hitter Choi Joo-hwan to pop out to shallow left and then striking out Lee Jung-hoo. Captain Kim Hyun-soo then grounded out to second to put a merciful end to a frustrating game for South Korea.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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