South Korea’s baseball team will play in the Korea-Japan final after a sweep of Chinese Taipei.

South Korea, led by Ryu Jung-il, swept Chinese Taipei 6-1 in the third game of the Asia-Pacific Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 qualifier at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on Monday to advance to the final after finishing second in qualifying.

In a must-win game, Korea defeated Chinese Taipei and will face Japan again in the final on April 19.

Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions) pitched five innings (84 pitches), allowing one run on three hits (one home run) with five strikeouts. The only run he gave up was a solo home run to Ryu Ji-hung in the bottom of the fourth inning. He had a few scoring chances, but was able to get through the inning without giving up a single hit.

Won is the first Korean starter to earn a win in the tournament.

Moon Dong-joo took the mound in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score 1-2 against Australia, and Lee Yi-ri pitched six innings of two-run ball against Japan, but was unable to get any support from the bats. Won Tae-in pitched a strong game with the support of a hot batting lineup.

Won made his presence felt with a 10-hit shutout in Game 2 of the Hangzhou Asian Games, proving that he can pitch on the international stage.

His bat has woken up, which is good news ahead of the final.

After scoring three runs against Australia in a nail-biter and one run on a solo home run against Japan the day before, the Korean bats had already scored five runs in the second inning, including a leadoff single by Noh Si-hwan. Kim Joo-won had three hits and an RBI, while Kim Hwi-jip had one hit, two RBI and a walk.

Their opponent in the final, which starts at 6 p.m. on the 19th, will be Japan, who won the best-of-three series and topped the preliminary round. South Korea dropped a 1-2 decision to Japan on Sunday, scoring the lone run on a two-out home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.

After defeating Japan at the Hangzhou Asian Games in October with a team of social baseball players, South Korea’s baseball team lost 4-13 at the WBC in March when the adult national teams went head-to-head, and they were unable to break through the Japanese barrier at the tournament, which featured players aged 24 and under or in their third year of professional baseball.

The finalists will start Kwak Bin (Doosan Bears). After going 12-7 with a 2.90 ERA in 23 games this season, Kwak was selected to the Hangzhou Asian Games squad, but did not play a single game due to back soreness.

Japan’s starter is Tatsuya Imai (Seibu Lions), who throws a hard fastball in the low 150s. Imai, who was drafted first overall by Seibu in 2016, is 10-5 with a 2.30 ERA this season.


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