PREVIEW: Japan face Korea for Premier12 Championship

PREVIEW: Japan face Korea for Premier12 Championship
Korea are the defending Premier12 and Olympic Champions ... Japan finished third at the 2015 Premier12 ... Japan defeated Korea in their Super Round game 10-8 last night.

No. 3 ranked Korea has an opportunity to defend their 2015 Premier12 title tonight, as they take on no. 1 ranked Japan in the 2019 Premier12 Championship Game at the Tokyo Dome.

In last night’s Super Round finale it was Japan who came out on top 10-8 in a three hour and 40 minute marathon. Japan scored six runs in the bottom of the third in front of 44,224 fans at the Tokyo Dome, before Korea bounced straight back with five runs of their own in the fourth. Despite giving up two runs in the seventh, pitchers Kan Ohtake and Kazuto Taguchi combined for two scoreless innings to seal a Japanese win.

Starting pitcher: Hyeon-Jong Yang (Korea)

Yang has been dominant in his first two Premier12 starts, and will toe the rubber for Korea in the Championship Game. Yang allowed one hit and struck out 10 against Australia in Group A and gave up one earned run in 5.2 innings against the US in the Super Round. Despite allowing 10 hits against the US, Yang struck out seven and has a tournament ERA of 0.77.

Starting pitcher: Shun Yamaguchi (Japan)

Japan will hand Shun Yamaguchi his third start of the tournament in tonight’s Gold Medal Game. Yamaguchi opened the tournament for Japan in Group B, allowing one earned run against Venezuela. His second start came against Australia in the Super Round, as he gave up two earned runs in four innings. Despite two solid outings, opponents are hitting .281 off Yamaguchi this tournament.

Player to watch: Seiya Suzuki (Japan)

Samurai Japan’s power hitting right-fielder has been outstanding during the WBSC Premier12. Suzuki is 11-for-23 with two doubles, two triples, three home runs and 12 RBI in six games.

Suzuki won the 2019 Central League batting title in Japan’s NPB, finishing with a .335 batting average and 28 home runs for the Hiroshima Carp.

Player to watch: Jung-Hoo Lee (Korea)

Korean outfielder Jung-Hoo Lee has been Korea’s hottest hitter of the Premier12. Lee is 10-for-23, with a tournament high five doubles through seven games.

Lee slashed .336/.388/.456 for the Kiwoom Heroes during the 2019 KBO season, and claimed 193 hits in 140 games.

First pitch of the 2019 Premier12 Championship game is slated for 19:00 JST.