Korea heads to Tokyo undefeated

Korea heads to Tokyo undefeated
Cuba played a brave game, but Korea's defence backed up the pitching and the big bats came to life to break the score open in the fifth. Korea's win qualified Australia to the Super Round.

No. 3 ranked Korea shut out no. 5 ranked Cuba, 7-0, and will head to the Super Round of the WBSC Premier12 2019. A four-run rally in the bottom of the fifth broke the score open and made the crowd of over 12,000 ecstatic.

The win by Korea qualified Australia to the Super Round. Australia shared a 1-2 record with Canada and Cuba but advanced thanks to a better Team Quality Balance.

Korea took the lead in the bottom of the second. Starter Yosimar Cousin hit a batter and allowed a walk. It was enough for manager Miguel Borroto to give the call to highly touted prospect Yariel Rodriguez. El Gallero de San Serapio got some help from his third baseman Alexander Ayala, who nailed down Yang Euiji at home, then gave up a two-RBI single to shortstop Kim Haseong.

“Korea is the defending champion,” said Miguel Borroto.

“They took the game in their hands from the second inning. Let me congratulate Korea for what they did on the field and for the way they organised the tournament. I will be cheering for you.”

Borroto added: “It is tough to face a submarine pitcher. We are not used to this type of delivery and we struggled.”

Cuba’s hitters tried indeed to adjust to Park Jonghun. Shortstop Erisbel Arruebarruena led off the top of the fifth with a single. Park struck out two in four scoreless innings before Korean manager Kim Kyungmoon turned to Lee Youngha in relief. The righthander got out of the inning with some help from third baseman Hur Kyoungmin.

“I hoped I could finish the inning,” commented Park Jonghun at the end of the game.

It’s OK, winning for Korea is the most important thing. In Tokyo I won’t be able to surprise anybody, there are two Asian teams. I will simply need my best stuff.”

The defending champions broke the score open in the bottom half of the frame. Yariel Rodriguez allowed a walk, hit the next batter and then gave up an RBI-single to first baseman Park Byungho. The star slugger hadn’t collected a hit so far.

“I normally don’t celebrate a hit, but tonight it was special," said Park Byungho.

"It was great to get out of a slump for my teammates and in front of this crowd. We haven’t done anything yet, the ultimate goal is to advance to the Olympics.”

Manager Kim Kyungmoon added: “You should always consider that a player hits clean-up for a reason. I knew I had to wait for him.”

Yoennis Yera came out of the bullpen only to allow another RBI-single to designated hitter Kim Jaehwan. The ball went then to Freddy Alvarez, who couldn’t prevent two more runs, on a sacrifice fly by catcher Yang Euiji and a base hit by left fielder Kim Hyunsoo.

“We are very happy for this win and I know everybody is talking about the fact I won 12 consecutive games as a manager. It’s OK, but I want the players to focus on the games of the super round. We need our best effort in Tokyo,” said Kim Kyungmoon on a final note.