Korea’s baseball team, seeking a fourth straight Asian Games title, struggled against Hong Kong pitchers who used “ultra-low speed balls” of around 90 kilometres per hour, but their bats came alive late in the game.
Ryu Joong-il’s men earned a 10-0 cold-weather victory over Hong Kong in the eighth inning of their first Group B game at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Centre No. 1 near Hangzhou, East China’s Zhejiang Province on Monday.
South Korea will play its second group game against Chinese Taipei, one of its biggest rivals, at 7:30 p.m. (KST) on Feb. 2.
Chinese Taipei is coming off a 12-1, seven-inning cold game win over Thailand on the same day.
Starting pitcher Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions) used his change-up as his main weapon, striking out eight in four innings of one-hit ball.
Korea struck first in the top of the first inning.
Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom Heroes) led off with a single against Leung Chung-hei, but Choi Ji-hoon (SSG Landers) followed with an infield single on a fielding error.
A wild pitch and a walk to Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha Eagles) then put runners on first and second.
The next batter, Kang Baek-ho (KT WIZ), struck out swinging, but Moon Bo-kyung (LG Twins) lined a single to right field to put runners on first and second for a 1-0 lead.
The Korean bats struggled against the Hong Kong pitcher’s slow ball, which was clocked at less than 100 kilometres per hour, and were unable to add to their lead in the bottom of the third.
In the bottom of the third inning, with runners on first and second, Kang Baek-ho’s well-placed shot was caught in the right fielder’s glove and the second baseman, Choi Ji-hoon, was out.
In the process, the umpires confused Choi Ji-hoon and Noh Si-hwan, the first baseman, and made a bizarre decision to have the second baseman return to first base, delaying the game for about 20 minutes.
South Korea took a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Kim Hye-sung hit a two-run double to the right of the right field fence after back-to-back singles by Yoon Dong-hee and Park Sung-sung and a walk to Kim Sung-yoon loaded the bases.
After missing opportunities with runners on first and second in the sixth and third in the seventh, Korea made it 4-0 in the bottom of the eighth when Kim Hye-sung doubled to left-centre and Choi Ji-hoon singled up the middle to put runners on first and third.
Kang Baek-ho and Moon Bo-kyung then drew back-to-back walks to push the lead to 5-0.
Yoon Dong-hee followed with a two-run double down the left field line to make it 7-0, and two more runs scored on a throwing error and a sacrifice fly by Park Sung-seong to make it 9-0.
Kim Hyung-jun singled and Kim Sung-yoon walked before Kim Hye-sung singled up the middle to make it 10-0.
At the plate, Kim went 3-for-6 with a double and three RBIs.
Right-handed pitcher Jang Hyun-seok (Masan Yongmago), the only high school student on the team, entered the game in the seventh inning with a 3-0 lead and pitched one hitless inning with two strikeouts, but was shaky as he threw one hit-by-pitch and a wild pitch. 파워볼분석