The U-18 baseball team led by coach Lee Young-bok (Chungam High School) lost to Japan in the first round of the Super Round of the 2023 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) 31st World Youth Baseball Championship (U-18 Baseball World Cup) held in Taipei, Taiwan on the 7th. We lost by -7.
Korea is Chung-heon Lee (center fielder, Chungam High School) – An-seok Jeong (second baseman, Whimoon High School) – Dong-geon Yeo (first baseman, Seoul High School) – Ji-hwan Park (shortstop) – Seung-min Lee (left fielder, Whimoon High School) – Hyun-min Cho (third baseman, Chungam High School) – Yul-ye Lee ( The lineup was formed in the following order: Catcher, Gangneung High School) – Sangjun Lee (designated hitter, Gyeonggi High School) – Yeonjunwon (right fielder, Busan High School). The pitcher responsible for starting is Bae Chan-seung (Daegu High School).
Japan has Ryusei Terachi (first baseman) – Shuya Yamada (shortstop) – Ren Ogata (second baseman) – Haruto Morita (designated hitter) – Yuzuki Nakayama (third baseman) – Minato Maruta (center fielder) – Shinnosuke Chibana (right fielder) The lineup was formed in that order: Mikito Ogata (catcher) and Koga Hashimoto (left fielder). Yugo Maeda took the starting mound.
On this day, Korea actually had to play a ‘double header’. 온라인섯다
The final group match against Puerto Rico, played the previous day, was declared suspended before the top of the third inning due to heavy rain, and Korea played the remaining games after moving from Taichung to Taipei for the Super Round schedule.
After the game resumed, Korea finished the group stage on a high note with an 8-1 win over Puerto Rico, taking second place in the group, but there was not much time to rest.
The situation was better than that of Puerto Rico, who prepared for the Super Round match against the Netherlands immediately after the last match of the preliminaries, but due to the tight match schedule, more physical strength was required than usual.
Moreover, Korea faced Japan from the first game. Not only young players, but also adult players currently playing professionally feel the pressure of the Korea-Japan match when they participate in international competitions, and in today’s match, Korea felt the difference in skill level with Japan.
The Korean batting line, which entered the game in a somewhat tired state, seemed unable to find a strategy against Japanese starter Maeda. It was a far cry from the concentration he showed when he faced Puerto Rico, such as making a big inning.
In the top of the first inning, Lee Chung-heon, Jeong An-seok, and Yeo Dong-geon retired with a strikeout, a ground ball, and a fly ball to left field, respectively, and the inning ended with a three-way strike in the top of the second inning, with Park Ji-hwan’s fly ball to right field, Lee Seung-min’s ground ball to shortstop, and Cho Hyun-min’s fly ball to left field. Maeda’s pitch count in the first and second innings was only 7 and 12, respectively.
On the other hand, Japan scored 3 runs in the bottom of the second inning and succeeded in taking the lead with a big inning. Bae Chan-seung caused a crisis in the bottom of the second inning with one out and runners on first and second base, then allowed the bases to advance with a wild pitch and hit a triple with two RBIs. In addition, when the follow-up batter hit a ground ball to the shortstop, the runner on third base hit home, widening the gap between the two teams to 0-3.
Korea tried to find a breakthrough in the top of the third inning when Lee Sang-jun hit a single with one out, but the follow-up batter, Yeon Jun-won, hit a double play and poured cold water on them. In the top of the fourth inning, Lee Chung-heon, Jeong An-seok, and Yeo Dong-geon all hit fly balls and had to return to the dugout.
If there was a chance for Korea to score, it was in the top of the 5th inning. Japan removed Maeda and put second pitcher Kodai Mori on the mound. With two outs, Cho Hyun-min got on base with a heavy hit and then Lee Yul-ye got on base with a hit ball, creating an opportunity for scoring. However, Lee Sang-jun, who touched the first pitch, squandered the opportunity by hitting a fly ball to center field.
Korea, which failed to score through five innings, took the opportunity to score once again with Lee Chung-heon’s single and Jeong An-seok’s sacrifice bunt with one out in the top of the sixth inning. Yeo Dong-gun, who came to the plate with 2 outs and 2nd base, hit a left-field hit after an 8-pitch game, and with 2 outs and runners on 1st and 3rd base, Park Ji-hwan pushed Mori’s 2nd pitch and hit a left-field hit. Meanwhile, third base runner Lee Chung-heon hit home and scored Korea’s first run.
Japan did not sit still in Korea’s pursuit. In the bottom of the sixth inning, leadoff hitter Maeda’s solo shot brought Bae Chan-seung off the mound, and after Jeon Mir (Gyeongbuk High School)’s relief appearance, Ogata Ren’s hit, Jeon Mir’s wild pitch, and Nakayama’s walk put the team on first and third base with one out.
Third base runner Ren Ogata was out when Maruta’s pitcher grounded out, but with two outs on second and third base, Chibana brought home third base runners Nakayama and Maruta with a heavy hit. In addition, Ogata Mikido’s 1 RBI hit was added, widening the gap between the two teams to 6 points.
With one out in the top of the 7th inning, Korea’s Lee Yul-ye calmly picked off 4 balls and earned a walk, and Sang-jun Lee’s hit seemed to keep the spark of hope alive. However, after Yeon Jun-won’s catcher’s fly ball with one out and runners on first and second base, Lee Chung-heon’s fly ball to first base ended the game without a score.
Bae Chan-seung, the starting pitcher who struggled with Japan’s batting lineup, took the loss with 4 hits, 7 strikeouts, and 4 runs (2 earned) in 5 innings, while Jeon Mir, who took the mound as the second pitcher, also performed somewhat poorly, allowing 3 hits, 1 walk, and 3 runs in 1 inning. In the batting lineup, Lee Sang-jun was the only player to achieve multiple hits with 2 hits in 3 at-bats, but the shine was overshadowed by the team’s loss.
With the ‘challenge to the finals’ yellow light turned on due to the defeat in the Korea-Japan match, Korea is aiming for a reversal in the second match of the super round against the United States on the 8th. Last year, the national team won the Super Round at this tournament, but failed to reach the finals as their loss to the United States in the first preliminary game was reflected in their performance. They lost 2-6 to Japan in the 3rd-4th place match, and finished 4th in the final score. The competition has ended.