Right-handed ace Kwak Bin (Doosan Bears) proved his international competitiveness in his third attempt.
Not only Kwak, but also Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha Eagles), Lee Yi-ri (KIA Tigers), and Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions) were the biggest winners of the tournament.
Kwak Bin was able to bounce back from a poor outing at the World Baseball Classic (WBC), where he allowed three runs in two innings, and the Hangzhou Asian Games, where he did not play a single game due to gallbladder symptoms.
In his most stressful outing, Kwak turned Japanese batters like leaves in an autumn breeze with a cascading curveball.
Until now, it has been the “norm” for a left-handed pitcher to take the mound against Japan at international level.
Kwak Bin proved that right-handed orthodox pitchers can also be “Japan killers.
He also outdueled Japanese right-hander Tatsuya Imai (4 innings, 5 hits, 2 walks, 2 runs).
On the day, Kwak kept the Japanese bats in check with a fastball in the low-to-mid 150 mph range and a mix of curveballs, sliders, and changeups.
Kwak gave up a single to Shota Morishita in the top of the first inning to the right side of the infield, but struck out No. 4 hitter Shugo Maki on a body curveball.
The biggest threat came in the second inning.
Kwak-Bin struck out leadoff hitter Shogo Sakakura on a full count, but gave up a two-run double to Jusei Mannami, who had hit a solo shot in South Korea’s previous game.
With one out, Kwak-Bin faltered with back-to-back walks to put runners on second and third.
However, a mound visit from pitching coach Choi Il-un helped him regain his composure and he retired the next batter.
In the third inning, with runners on first and second after a hit and a walk, Kwak Binh induced the reunited Mannami to ground out to the shortstop.
In the fourth inning, when Kwak threw over 60 pitches, he allowed only one hit and struck out three batters.
However, with two outs in the fifth inning, he threw a two-pitch curveball to Maki in the middle of the strike zone, and Maki connected for a 120-meter solo shot to left-center field.
Kwak Bin calmly got the final out and walked off the mound without allowing another run.
Leading 2-1 at this point, South Korea gave up one more run in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 2-2.
In the end, Korea lost to Japan 3-4 in 10 extra innings.
The result is a second consecutive runner-up finish, but it is not without significance.
South Korea boasted a solid mound throughout the tournament, especially from its starters.
The Korean starters combined for 21⅔ innings in four games, giving up six earned runs for a 2.49 ERA.
The pitchers have been given the “green light” to start the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier 12 next year.
Moon struggled a bit with his velocity in the first game of the group stage against Australia on June 16, but he did his job with 5⅔ innings, 102 pitches, five hits (one home run), four walks, five strikeouts, and two runs.
Thanks to Moon’s solid outing, South Korea was able to defeat Australia 3-2 in extra innings.
Lee, who started the second game of the tournament on Sunday against Japan, was the only Korean pitcher to record a quality start (six or more innings pitched and three or fewer earned runs allowed).
He held the Japanese bats to two runs on six hits (one home run) with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings.
Lee, who was cut from the national team just before the start of the Hangzhou Asian Games, used the tournament as an opportunity to showcase his talents in front of Ryu Joong-il.
Won, who has played in every international tournament this year from the World Baseball Classic (WBC) to the Hangzhou Asian Games to this tournament, pitched five innings of three-hit ball (one home run) with five strikeouts and one run allowed in the final game against Taiwan on Aug. 18. 슬롯게이밍