South Korea taking batting practice before the opening game
Premier12, First Round, Pool B: Japan – South Korea 5-0
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World No. 1 Japan has won the official opening game of the Premier12. They defeated South Korea 5-0 on Sunday in front of an official attendance of 28,848 at the Sapporo Dome. It was the first game in the history of the new tournament, which unites the top 12 countries in the Men’s Baseball World Rankings. The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by former Major Leaguer Chan Ho Park.
It was also the first game of the first round in Pool B. The first game of Pool A will be played on Monday at Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung between Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. The other eight participants will enter the competition on Tuesday. The first full game day with all 12 teams on the field is scheduled for Wednesday.
Japan was led by flame-throwing Shohei Otani. The 21-year-old right-hander of the Nippon Ham Fighters, which are calling the Sapporo Dome their home, struck out ten in six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and two walks. Two relievers closed out the shutout.
At the plate Samurai Japan struck first in the second. With runners on first and second and no out, a ground ball by Ryosuke Hirata hit third base and skipped into the large foul territory in left field for a double, scoring a run. Following a groundout Japan loaded the bases with a walk and Hayato Sakamoto pushed home another run with a sac fly. A third run was denied at home after Hirata got picked off at third.
Japan didn’t stop there. They added single runs in the fifth and sixth through Hirata’s RBI single and a solo home run by Sakamoto. After surviving a crucial bases loaded situation in the top of the eighth, Japan finalized the score in the bottom half of the same frame through a RBI double by Tetsuto Yamada.
Kwanghyun Kim took the loss. The southpaw conceded five hits, two runs and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. South Korea had its scoring opportunities in the game, especially in the last two innings, when they couldn’t convert with the bases loaded and no outs.
Japan and South Korea are going to have the next two days off, as they travel to Taiwan for the remainder of the first round. Only the opening game in Sapporo and the semi-finals and the finals in Tokyo will be played in Japan. The rest of the tournament takes place in Taiwan.