Japan, Korea Advance To Second Round

TOKYO–California here we come.

Japan and Korea secured
berths in the second round of the 2006 World Baseball Classic after
beating Taiwan and China at Tokyo Dome on Saturday. Both teams improved
their records to 2-0 in the Asia Round and will leave this week for
Anaheim for more WBC action beginning March 12.

In a late
morning (11 a.m. local start) game, Korea defeated China 10-1, and
Japan knocked off Taiwan 14-3 in a night contest called after seven
innings because of a 10-run-lead rule. It was Japan’s second short-game
victory after it beat China 18-2 in an eight-inning game on Friday
night.

The two losing teams were eliminated from advancing
to the U.S. and will play Sunday morning to determine third place in
the WBC Pool A. Japan plays Korea on Sunday night to wrap up the Asia
Round.

Korea dominated the spunky but relatively
inexperienced China squad, out-hitting them 18-2 in a game played
before 5,193 spectators. DH Lee Seung Yeop led the offensive attack
with two home runs, a pair of singles, a sacrifice fly and five RBIs.
Righthander Son Min Han started and worked four scoreless innings to
notch the victory.

China’s only score came on a solo home
run by left fielder Yang Shuo, and team manager Jim Lefebvre said
following the loss, “Our team was very flat today. But we are in the
WBC to learn and gain experience. Tomorrow’s game will be a big one for
us because of the China-Taiwan rivalry, and we hope to go home with a
win.”

Manager Kim In Sik of Korea said he is happy his team
will be going to America and added, “It will be much better if we can
beat Japan on Sunday night. Then we can go to Anaheim with more
confidence.”

The Korean team will be without third baseman
Kim Dong Joo, the team’s cleanup hitter, who separated his right
shoulder in Friday’s game against Taiwan during an awkward slide at
first base. He will miss the remainder of the WBC.

Lee Seung
Yeop was very comfortable hitting in what will now be his home ball
park. After two years with the Japan Pacific League’s Chiba Lotte
Marines, he will now play for the Yomiuri Giants.

“I love to
hit in the Tokyo Dome and look forward to another productive game
tomorrow night against Japan and to a great 2006 regular season,” he
said.

The Japan-Taiwan game drew a crowd of 31,047, largest
of the pool, which saw the Japanese team strike big in the first
inning. A three-run homer by Hitoshi Tamura of the Yokohama BayStars
gave manager Sadaharu Oh’s team a lead it never relinquished.

Japan
went on to pound Taiwan pitchers-eight of them-with 15 hits and blew
the game wide open with a six-run fifth inning. Seibu Lions ace Daisuke
Matsuzaka started and worked the first four innings to earn the victory.

“I
would like to congratulate Korea and Japan for advancing to the second
round of the WBC,” Taiwan manager Lin Hua-Wei said. “Our team did its
best but we’re very disappointed. Our opponent tonight was more
powerful than we had imagined and, even though I changed pitchers seven
times, it didn’t help. We just could not stop their batting attack.”

Oh
added, “Since Korea had already won two games, we felt we had to win
this one. When Tamura hit that homer with two outs in the first inning,
it took a lot of pressure off of us.

“We’re looking forward
to playing in Anaheim, but we have a big game to play against Korea,
and I will make the sure the players stay focused on that.”

International | #2006 #International Affairs #World Baseball Classic

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