South Korea Routs Israel To Advance To Olympics Semifinals

Image credit: Jae-Il Oh (Getty Images)

Baek Ho-Kang went 4-for-4 with two RBIs, Hyun-Soo Kim hit two doubles and a home run and South Korea routed Israel, 11-1, on Monday to advance to the semifinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

The game was called after seven innings due to the 10-run mercy rule. South Korea recorded an Olympics-high 18 hits and never trailed.

Kim and Jae-il Oh each hit a two-run homer, Hae-Min Park reached base five times out of the leadoff spot and all nine starters recorded at least one hit as South Korea moved one step closer to defending its Olympic gold medal.

South Korea will face the winner of the Japan-United States matchup in the semifinals on Wednesday. Israel will face the Dominican Republic in an elimination game on Tuesday.

South Korea jumped out to an early lead in the first inning and never looked back.

Park and Kang opened the bottom of the first with back-to-back singles and Jung-Ho Lee lifted a sacrifice fly to center to give South Korea a 1-0 lead just three batters into the game. Oh added a two-run homer in the second inning to quickly make it 3-0.

Israel briefly rallied in the fifth. As driving rain began to fall and caused South Korea’s pitchers to lose their grip on the ball, Israel quickly loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter. After Ian Kinsler drew the second walk to load the bases, Danny Valencia battled back from an 0-2 count to draw a bases-loaded walk and force Israel’s first run home.

Israel couldn’t tack on any more, though. With the bases still loaded and two outs, Ryan Lavarnway popped out to end the threat.  

South Korea took advantage of the missed opportunity with a seven-run inning to put the game away. The Koreans loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batter to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Jae-Gyun Hwang hit a routine grounder to first base with the infield in, but Valencia bounced the throw to the plate to allow the runner from third to score and make it 4-1. Jung-Ho Lee followed with a two-run double down the left-field line and Kang singled through the left side to bring two more runs home. Kim added a long two-run homer to right with two outs in the inning to cap the seven-run outburst.

In the seventh, Kim hit a two-out double off longtime Israeli pitcher Shlomo Lipetz and came around to score on Hye-Seong Kim’s single to center field to invoke the mercy rule.

Israel managed only three hits in the game. Lavarnway and Blake Gailen each went 1-for-3 with a single and Mitch Glasser went 1-for-2 with a single and a run scored.

Sang-Woo Choo earned the win for South Korea (3-1) with a scoreless inning of relief. Joey Wagman gave up 10 hits and three runs in 3.2 innings to take the loss for Israel (1-3).

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