South Korea’s national baseball team, led by Ryu Jung-il, finished as runners-up at the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 after losing to Japan.
The Koreans lost 3-4 in the final game of the tournament against Japan at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, on Nov. 19.
After taking a 3-2 lead in the top of the 10th inning on Yoon Dong-hee’s (Lotte Giants) RBI single, Korea gave up a tying sacrifice fly to Shogo Sakakura with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 10th inning and then gave up the game-winning hit to Makoto Kadawaki with the bases loaded.
South Korea, which lost 0-7 to Japan in the final of the 2017 invitational and finished as runner-up, was stymied by the Japanese in the second edition of the tournament in six years.
Japan took home ¥20 million in prize money, while runner-up Korea received ¥5 million.
South Korea has now lost all eight meetings between the two professional teams since a 4-3 win in the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Premier12 semifinals.
Korea lost two games to Japan in the 2017 APBC, two Premier12 games in 2019, the semifinals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the first round of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, and the APBC qualifier on Sunday.
Korea opened the scoring in the final and gained momentum, but ultimately failed to break down the Japanese mound.
The Korean bats scored early in the game against Tatsuya Imai, who has 10 wins in the Nippon League this year.
After steadily creating chances, such as runners on second and first in the first inning and second and second in the second, Korea put runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the third inning when Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom Heroes) singled and Kim Do-young (KIA Tigers) bunted and the Japanese first baseman made a fielding error.
Yoon Dong-hee struck out to break up the flow, but No. 4 hitter Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha Eagles) hit a crisp two-run double to left-center field for a 2-0 lead.
Korean starter Kwak Bin kept the Japanese offense scoreless with a combination of hard fastballs and big drop curveballs, despite leaving runners on base in every inning from the first through the fourth.
In the bottom of the second inning, Kwak briefly lost his grip on his fastball against the Japanese bottom of the order and loaded the bases with two outs, but he got Kyota Fujiwara to fly out to center field.
With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Kwak allowed a run-scoring single to Japan’s No. 4 hitter, Shugo Maki, on a curveball.
After Kwak Bin finished with five innings of five-hit ball, three walks, six strikeouts and one run, Korea turned to its bullpen in the sixth inning with a 2-1 lead.
In the bottom of the sixth, Choi Seung-yong (Doosan Bears) gave up a leadoff double to Jusei Mannami and a sacrifice bunt to Makoto Kadawaki, but gave up an infield single to Teruaki Sato to tie the game at 2-2.
While Korean batters struggled against the left-handed bullpen that came out in succession after Japan’s starter Imai was sent down, our bullpen held the Japanese offense without allowing another run.
In the bottom of the eighth, with runners on first and second, Choi Ji-min (KIA) struck out Kadawaki on a high fastball and then got Sato to ground out to the infield to end the threat.
In the bottom of the ninth, Choi shut down the Japanese bats to send the game from 2-2 to extra innings.
In this tournament, if the game is not decided in the regular innings, the team that scores the most runs in the top of the 10th inning with runners on first and second base wins the game.
With runners on first and second in the top of the 10th, Korea’s leadoff hitter, Kim Do-young, walked to load the bases, but Yoon Dong-hee hit a clean single up the middle to score the third run.
However, in the bottom of the 10th inning of extra innings, Chung Hae-young (KIA) was unable to get out of a bases-loaded jam twice in the tournament, and Korea finished as runners-up.
Although South Korea lost twice to Japan, they played evenly, 1-2 in the preliminary round on the 17th and 3-4 in the final on the same day, signaling a successful generation change.
Having accomplished their goal of developing young talent, the Korean National Team will attempt to conquer the world once again at the World Baseball Softball Federation Premier 12, scheduled to be held next November. 토토사이트