18U BWC: Japan wins Asian Clash at Mokdong
Korea loses also second game of medal round
Seoul (Korea). The Gold Medal Game at the XXV IBAF 18U Baseball World Championship will be played without host Korea. They lost the highly anticipated duel against arch rival Japan on Thursday evening by a score of 2-4. In presence of KBO Commissioner Koo Bon-neung, who also threw out the first pitch prior to the game, a four-run sixth inning decided effectively the game.
With the victory Japan is improving to 2-2 in the second round, keeping its chances alive to reach the Gold Medal Game. This dream is definitely over for Korea, which dropped to 1-3 and sixth place in the standings.
The game started with a tight pitcher’s duel. Shintaro Fujinami, who already had thrown five innings in the loss to Colombia on Wednesday, took the mound for Japan. Jae Min Shim got the nod for Korea. In a duel of righty against lefty they kept the opposing bats in check and exchanged zeroes for the first five frames.
The scoreless drought finally ended in the sixth. Two walks and a hit batter loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the sixth. A RBI fielder’s choice by Ryoya Kaneko drove in the first run. A pair of wild pitches led to two more runs. A RBI single by Kohei Sasagawa finally capped the rally and gave Japan a 4-0 lead.
The four-run advantage would be enough to win the game against Korea. The host of the tournament got on the board in the bottom of the seventh. With one out and the bases loaded Joong Yeol An came through with a two-run double down the left field line. However after putting three men on again, an infield fly and a fielder’s choice ended the threat and eventually also the Gold Medal hopes for the Korean fans.
Shintaro Fujinami went the distance, allowing six hits, two runs (1 ER) and four walks. He struck out six for the win, giving up just one extra base hit all game. Jae Min Shim ended up with the loss, having conceded four hits, four runs and two base on balls in six innings. Geon Wook Lee retired the last nine Japanese batters in a row - five on strikeouts – but since his teammates couldn’t score more than two runs against Fujinami it was just a statistical side note.
(From IBAF Website)