Korea baseball needs to beat ‘nemesis’ Taiwan to avoid fourth straight defeat

The South Korean baseball team, led by head coach Ryu Jung-il, will take on Chinese Taipei at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center in Shaoxing, Zhejiang province, China, at 7:30 p.m. ET today in the second game of Group B of the baseball competition at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. Taiwan’s professional baseball is a step below Korea’s, but its national team is considered a “nemesis” that has plagued Korea on multiple occasions in international competition.

Baseball at the Asian Games is organized as follows: the eight participating nations are divided into groups A-B, with the top two finishers in each group advancing to the super round to determine the finalists. On paper, Japan and China in Group A and South Korea and Chinese Taipei in Group B are the favorites to punch their tickets to the Super Round.

The 1-2 finishers in each group will enter the Super Rounds with a head-to-head record against their group opponents. If South Korea defeats Chinese Taipei in the group stage, it means that one win against Chinese Taipei will count towards their Super Round record.

In this case, even if Korea is upset by Japan, they only need to beat China to go 2-1 and punch their ticket to the final. On the other hand, if they lose to Taiwan, they will have to beat both Japan and China in the Super Round and then do a lot of math. A win against Chinese Taipei in the group stage would be a shortcut to a fourth straight loss.메이저사이트

South Korea’s baseball team gestures to the crowd after winning their baseball group B match against Hong Kong at the Hangzhou Asian Games on Monday. Yonhap News Agency

The Chinese Taipei team comes into the tournament with plenty of depth. It has assembled a top-notch squad with players from the minor leagues of Major League Baseball and the national team. It includes seven members of the “golden generation” that won the 2019 World Youth Baseball Championship over the United States. In their most recent meeting, Taiwan shocked South Korea 7-0 in the 2019 Premier12 Super Round to win the title. In many ways, they’re Red Flag No. 1.

On the other hand, the South Korean national team is weaker than usual. The majority of the roster (including three wild cards) is made up of players who are 24 years old or younger or in their third year of professional play. With the KBO League still running during the Asian Games, the number of players each team could select (three) was also limited, and key players like Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) and Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos) were sidelined with injuries.

South Korea didn’t have its way in the first game of the tournament against Hong Kong on Day 1 either. Despite a 10-0 cold game win in the eighth inning, they held a shaky 3-0 lead through seven innings. They scored seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to fulfill the cold game requirement (15 runs after the fifth inning and 10 runs after the seventh inning). On the other hand, Chinese Taipei jumped out to an early lead with seven runs in the third inning against Thailand on the same day, and added more runs in the fourth through sixth innings to seal a 12-1 win in the seventh.

Coach Liu Zhong-il said after the game, “Hong Kong’s pitchers’ balls were too slow (80-90 kilometers per hour), so our hitters struggled to get timing. I think we were able to cope well after the pitchers who threw relatively fastballs came out later in the game.” “The Taiwanese pitchers’ balls are generally fast. I think we’ll be able to find our form against Taiwan.”

“Our No. 4 hitter Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz) had a bad game in Hong Kong (0-for-4 with three strikeouts), but he seems to be hitting well. I believe he will do well against Taiwanese pitchers.” “I think Taiwan will start a left-handed pitcher. We won’t make any major changes to the starting lineup.”

The Asian Games do not have a starter’s reserve system. Only the opposing team is informed of the left-handed or right-handed starter, which is revealed just before the game. South Korea, which does not have a left-handed ace, will start a right-handed starter against Chinese Taipei. Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles) is the favorite, followed by Kwak Bin (Doosan Bears).

Chinese Taipei has won the Asian Games baseball gold medal every time since 2006 in Doha, Qatar. They will be looking to win their first title in 17 years and are openly wary of Korean baseball. On March 29, the first day of training after arriving in Hangzhou, the team asked the organizing committee to “close official team training to foreign reporters.”

The KBO relented and opened the next day’s practice to Korean reporters only. “The Korean team was not very conscious of whether or not to open the training, but we felt that it was unnecessary to open the door (to the Taiwanese side), so we did so,” said a KBO official. The defending champions, Korea, and the upstart challengers, Chinese Taipei, will finally meet.

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