World No. 3 South Korea advanced today to the semifinal of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic baseball competition after beating No. 24 Israel, 11-1, in a mercy-rule, seven-inning game, which was technically another walk-off for the defending gold medalists. Korean batters put on an 18-hit display, as Ji-Hwan Oh and Hyun Soo Kim both homered, in the process guaranteeing Korea a place in a medal game.
The lopsided win comes after both teams played a close contest last Thursday, which was a 10-inning, 6-5 win for Korea. All three of Korea’s wins have ended while its team was on offense. Heading into the semifinals Korea will at the very least play for the bronze.
For the second consecutive game, Korea’s first two batters opened the game with back to back hits. Leadoff man Hae-Min Park and Baek-ho Kang singled in the top of the first, putting runners in the corners with no outs. Park scored on a sacrifice fly. Kang was the thrown out at the plate when he tried to score from first base on a double to center field by Hyun-Soo Kim.
In the second inning, Ji Hwan Oh belted a two-run homer to the longest part of the Yokohama Baseball Stadium to make the score 3-0. It was Oh’s second home run of the tournament, and second against Israel, ties him for most Tokyo 2020 home runs, alongside Israel’s Ryan Lavarnway and Danny Valencia.
Korean starter Min-Woo Kim retired the first 11 Israeli hitters he faced, before giving up consecutive singles to Lavarnway and Blake Gailen with two outs in the fourth. For Israel, Joey Wagman started the game and tossed 3.2 frames. Despite giving up 10 hits, he managed to keep Israel in the game, allowing three runs and three walks, with one strikeout.
Under a light rain in the top of the fifth, Min-Woo Kim walked Glasser with one out and was pulled off by manager Kyung-Moon Kim, who sent Won-Joon Choi to the hill. But the side-arm reliever loaded the bases with a hit by pitch and a walk, and then walked-in Israel’s only run of the game. Sang-Woo Cho took the ball for Korea, who forced Lavarnway to a soft fly ball to end the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh, Korea exploded with a seven-run inning, including a two-run home run off the bat of Hyun-Soo Kim and a pair of two-RBI base hits by Hae-Min Park and Baekho Kang. With the score 10-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Hyun-Soo Kim doubled to center field, and then scored the game-ending run on a walk-off single off the bat of Hye-Seong Kim.
The winner was Sang-Woo Cho, who pitched one relief inning, while Wagman was charged with his second loss of the Olympics. Korea secured a spot in the semifinal on Wednesday and awaits the winner of tonight’s game between Japan and USA. Israel will play the Dominican Republic in an elimination game on tomorrow, Tuesday, 3 August, at 7 p.m. JST, in an elimination game.