Japan beat (6-5) Korea on a walk off double by first baseman Yamaguchi and stays alive in the race for a spot in the championship game of the U-12 Baseball World Cup. Samurai had fallen to Korea 5-0 with only 2 at bats to go and didn’t seem to be able to figure out a way to get to starter Ji Seungwon. But given a chance to come back, they capitalized on a couple of defensive blows and got away with a very important win.
Defense and pitching are the ingredients of drama in the first part of the game. Japan rely on a great play by shortstop Koki Tokunaga to end the top of the second. With Korea right fielder Jang Seongmu running at second and 2 outs, Tokunaga falls to his knees to stop second baseman Lee Sunwoo hard grounder and fires to first for the out.
Korea get in scoring position also in the top of the third. Pitcher Ji Seungwon leads off with a double and reaches third on a sacrifice bunt by third baseman Lee Chanseo. He can’t go any further as Japan starter Minamizawa strikes out center fielder Jang Jeongu and gets first baseman Woo Jeonggyu to fly out to right.
Japan get in scoring position in the bottom of the third and at the end they have to regret about stranding a runner early in the at bat. Yamada (walk) had been picked off for the first out. With catcher Mori at first and 2 outs, right fielder Tori singles and pushes him to third. Korea starter Ji Seungwon gets out of the jam when he has first baseman Yamaguchi pop up to Woo Jeonggyu.
In the top of the fourth Korea seem ready to get on the scoreboard. With Jang Seongmu at first and 2 outs, catcher Lee Kang lines into the gap in right center. Second baseman Otawa gets the rely throw from rightfield and fires a strike to home plate to get the sliding Jang.
They don’t let go the big chance they have in the top of the fifth. Lee Sunwoo leads off with a base hit. Pitcher Ji Seungwon tries to help himself sending a deep fly ball to center. Okada loses the ball in the sun and Lee runs all the way to third. Ji remains at first, but advances as Lee Chanseo walks. Korea is finally on the board as center fielder Jang Jeongsu delivers a bases loaded single up the middle. Woo Jeonggyu follows with a base hit to left and gets to second with a little help from Japan leftfielder Horiuchi. Korea scores 2 runs, Jang advances to third and Minamizawa is done. Japan send Kai Tozawa to the mound. Left fielder Lee Jinjung is the first out, but his (sacrifice) fly to left allows Jang to score. With 2 outs, Kim Jiwook singles to left and makes it 5-0.
Japan gets some help to come back as Okada flies to left and Lee Jinjung misplays it, allowing him to reach second. And Samurai capitalize on it. Okada advances on a wild pitch and scores on catcher Mori double to the gap in right center. Toi singles to left, but Mori loses balance on first step and needs to return to second base. First baseman Koki Yamaguchi adds a run for Japan when he doubles to right center. Korea brings the infield in, but fails to get an out on Tozawa grounder to second. A run scores and Korea moves Jang Jeongu from center field to the mound. Otawa flies out to right to score Yamaguchi from third. Tozawa becomes the potential tying run at second as he runs on the throw home. Korea sticks to the 5-4 lead as Tokunaga grounds out to second.
Japan wins it in the bottom of the sixth. Samurai put the potential tying run at first as Yamada walks.Yamada advances to second on Okada sacrifice bunt and to third on a wild pitch. Back to back walks (Mori, Toi) load the bases for Yamaguchi. The clean up hitter walks it off driving all the way to the center field fence the fourth pitch by Jang Jeongu.