In the Premier 12 first semi-final an unexpected score could be seen on the scoreboards.
The huge favorite team Samurai Japan had a hard time against the final Olympic champion Korea.
For three innings both teams did not score but in the fourth, Japan stepped on it and scored three times. Sho Nakata drew a walk to lead off the inning. He advanced to third on a single to left center, hit by Akira Nakamura. Ryosuke Hirata’s ground ball single to left field drove in Nakata and put runners on first and second. Then Motohiro Shima hit the ball towards shortstop Sangsu Kim, who committed a throwing error while attempting to throw to third base to make the force out. Nakamura advanced to third and scored on the error, and Hirata advanced to third to put runners on the corners for Japan. For the Korean manager In Sik Kim, this was the sign to replace starting pitcher Daeeun Rhee with Woochan Cha. The next batter, Shogo Akiyama drew a walk to load the bases, followed by a sac fly to right field hit by Hayato Sakamoto, on which Ryosuke Hirata could score the third Japanese run.
For the next four innings, the fans in the Tokyo Dome could dream of a spot in the final. But in the top of the ninth inning, Korea did the unthinkable.
Jaewon Oh enterend the batters box in the ninth as a pinch hitter for Korea, followed by pinch hitter Ahseop Son. Both singled followed by Keun-Woo Jeong’s double down the left field line to drive in Jaewon Oh and put runners in scoring position with no outs. After Yong-Kyu Lee was hit by a pitch, pitcher Takahiro Norimoto was replaced by Yuki Matsui.
Hyon-Soo Kim then walked in the second run for Korea. After a five pitch performance, Matsui was replaced by Hirotoshi Masui. Korean NPB star Dae-Ho Lee hit a line drive down the left field line and drove in two runs to give Korea a 4-3 lead with still n outs. But instead of extending the score the Koreans failed to score more runs.
So in the bottom of the ninth inning, Korea took the field to defend their slim one run lead. Relief pitcher Taehyon Chong retired the first two batters before giving up a hit to Sho Nakata. Chong was replaced immediately by Hyun-Seeung Lee. Lee retired pinch hitter Takeya Nakamura with a 5-3 ground out for the save.
Relief pitcher Chang Min Lim earned his second win by pitching only 0.1 inning in which he struck out one hitter.
Takahiro Norimoto pitched one full inning and faced four hitters in the ninth for the loss.
Average wise, Ahseop Son was the best hitter for Korea, going 1 for 1 with a run scored. Most impact had Dae-Ho Lee, who drove in two runs with his only single out of three at bats.
The Koreans will face the winner of tomorrow’s game Mexico vs USA.
From the quarter-finals it has been a weird tournament in which you can expect everything to happen. Who’d expect Group A winner Canada to be ousted by Mexico? Perhaps the biggest outsider of them all, Mexico will win tomorrow. It would be something if the nr. twelve in the world ranking would face the nr. eight, Korea.
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