Olympic Qualifier Roundup: Day 2

South Korea’s surprising 16-2 blowout victory over Australia highlighted the second day of action at the final Olympic qualifier in Taiwan. Canada and Taiwan also picked up victories to join South Korea atop the standings at 2-0. 

South Korea leadoff hitter Yong Kyu Lee went 3-for-5 at the top of the lineup, and first baseman Seung Yup Lee went 3-for-3 with a homer to help South Korea to victory. DH Dae Ho Lee also went 2-for-4 and drove in three runs for South Korea. On the mound, South Korea starter Hyun Jin Ru lasted 4 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits with four strikeouts and no walks. Ru, a 20-year-old lefthander, was the rookie of the year and MVP of the Korean Baseball Organization in 2006 and led the KBO in strikeouts last year.

For Australia (1-1), Twins farmhand Luke Hughes went 1-for-3 as the team’s second baseman. Fellow Twins minor leaguer Daniel Berg hit second in the order and played left field, finishing 1-for-4 at the plate. One bright spot for the Australians was Paul Weicherd, who went 3-for-4 in the leadoff slot and played center field. After starting pitcher Greg Wiltshire and relievers Chris Nowaday and Mark Kelly were lit up for 16 runs in the first four innings, Weicherd came in to pitch and tossed two scoreless innings without allowing a hit or a walk, and he finished with three strikeouts. 

Canada also improved to 2-0 with a 10-0 victory over South Africa (0-2). Canadian national team staple Stubby Clapp went 2-for-4 and Cubs catcher Chris Robinson went 4-for-4 with the walkoff home run in the seventh inning. Games in international tournaments end after seven innings when one team is ahead by at least 10 runs. Mariners outfielder Mike Saunders and Indians outfielder Nick Weglarz each went 0-for-2.

Red Sox center fielder Che Hsuan-Lin went 2-for-5 to help Taiwan to a 6-1 victory against Mexico (0-2). First baseman Chen-Min Peng added three hits for Taiwan.

Germany (1-1) edged Spain (0-2) in the day’s closest game with a 1-0 victory. Germany starter Enorbel Marquez-Ramirez pitched the compelte game for Germany, scattering five hits without allowing a walk.

The final Olympic qualifier is a round-robin tournament in which the top three teams will advance to the 2008 Beijing Games in August. The United States, Cuba, China, Japan and the Netherlands have already qualified for the Olympics. Canada, Taiwan and South Korea could all pull away from the pack with victories tomorrow (see schedule below).

Canada 2-0
Taiwan 2-0
South Korea 2-0
Australia 1-1
Germany 1-1
Mexico 0-2
South Africa 0-2
Spain 0-2

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Taiwan local date and time)

Sunday, March 9: Germany vs. Taiwan, Australia vs. Canada, South Africa vs. Spain, South Korea vs. Mexico

Monday, March 10: Germany vs. South Africa, Spain vs. South Korea, Taiwan vs. Canada, Australia vs. Mexico

Wednesday, March 12: South Korea vs. Germany, Canada vs. Spain, Mexico vs. South Africa, Taiwan vs. Australia

Thursday, March 13: Australia vs. Spain, Germany vs. Mexico, Canada vs. South Korea, South Africa vs. Taiwan

Friday, March 14: Spain vs. Mexico, South Africa vs. Australia, Taiwan vs. South Korea, Canada vs. Germany