World Baseball Classic, Round two, Pool one: Korea – Japan 4-1
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Korea held on to an early three-run lead and defeated Japan 4-1 to advance into the semi-finals of the 2009 World Baseball Classic. It was the second victory by the Olympic champion over their arch rivals in three games during the tournament. They will play one more match in PETCO Park, determining first seed from Pool one. Japan will face Cuba tonight, in a battle over the last remaining spot in the semi-finals. Team Nippon had beaten Cuba 6-0 on Sunday.
Korea didn’t waste any time on Tuesday, scoring three runs in the first. Singles by Young-Kyu Lee and Keun-Woo Jeong put runners at the corners with no outs. Hyun Soo Kim followed with a groundball to second baseman Akinori Iwamura. He threw the ball to shortstop Yasuyuki Kataoka for the force attempt, but he missed the catch. Lee would have scored anyway. Tae Kyun Kim walked to load the bases, before Shin-Soo Choo struck out for the first out. Jin Young Lee put Korea up with three runs, singling to left field to drive in two runners. A double play ended the rally.
Japan cut the deficit to two runs in the fifth on a RBI ground out by Ichiro Suzuki, scoring Kosuke Fukudome. However this was the lone run the defending WBC champion would put on the board. Korea extended the lead back to three runs in the eighth through a two-out bases loaded walk by Bum Ho Lee. It was the fourth base on balls in the frame.
Jung Keun Bong (W 1-0) already was on the mound, when Korea shut out Japan in the seeding game of round one. The starter again was able to silence the powerful bats of Ichiro, Norichika Aoki or Shuichi Murata. Bong allowed just one run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He was opposed by 22-year-old phenomenon Yu Darvish (L 0-1), who showed his talent with seven strikeouts in five innings. But he also gave up four hits, three runs (2 ER) and a bb to take the loss.