Starting pitchers announced, Premier12 super round ready to go

Starting pitchers announced, Premier12 super round ready to go
10/11/2019
During the pre-tournament press conference managers revealed the pitchers for the opening games: Yang Hyeon-jong and Cody Ponce will duel in Korea-USA. Arturo Reyes and Chiang Shao-Ching will face each other in Mexico-Chinese Taipei. Shun Yamaguchi and Dushan Ruzic will start Japan-Australia

The Premier12 super round will open on Monday, 11 November at two venues in Tokyo, Japan. During the pre-tournament press conference, the managers announced their starters.

Arturo Reyes will start for manager Juan Castro and Mexico against Chinese Taipei at ZOZO Marine Stadium in Chiba at noon. Reyes was born in 1992 and spent the 2019 season with the Durham Bulls, the Triple-A affiliate of the MLB Tampa Bay Rays. He has pitched so far only 3 innings in the tournament. Reyes started the game against the Kingdom of the Netherlands on 5 November and allowed only one hit and two walks.
Chinese Taipei manager Hong I-Chung will hand the ball to Chiang Shao Ching, a 26-year old right-hander who spent the 2019 season with the Columbus Clipper, the Triple-A affiliate of the MLB Cleveland Indians. Chiang started 26 games and is now a free agent. He started for Chinese Taipei against Puerto Rico on 5 November. He earned the win going six innings and allowing only three hits.

"I have 28 special players," commented Juan Castro. "We are very proud to be here."

"We've had a hard time adapting to a new time zone," added Mexico's shortstop Javier Salazar, "But I think we are ready for the super round. We will face three Asian teams and a different style of play. I think we need to keep playing our game."

Chinese Taipei manager Hong I-Chung said that the loss against Japan in the opening round was a learning experience: "I met with the rest of the coaching staff and we addressed our weaknesses. We are now ready to adjust. I have a team can can rely on some speed."

Japan will face Australia at ZOZO Marine Stadium at 7 pm. Manager Atsunori Inaba chose Shun Yamaguchi, a 32-year old right-hander who won 16 games for the NPB Yomiuri Giants during the 2019 season. Yamaguchi started the game against Venezuela but left with a no-decision. He pitched 4 innings in his only appearance in the WBSC Premier12 2019. His father is Yamaguchi Hisashi, a former sumo wrestler.
Australia's manager David Nilsson will give the ball to Dushan Ruzic, a 6'6" (198 cm) and 37-year old righthander who currently plays for the Canberra Cavalry in the Australian Baseball League but spent a relevant part of his career in Europe. Ruzic will make his debut in the Premier12 2019.

"It's exciting to start the super round against the home team," commented Australia's manager David Nilsson. "Japan is a very strong team. We need to do our best to challenge them. It would be wrong to focus on one player or the other, we need to focus on the strength of the team."

"We are excited," added pitcher Tim Atherton, who started two of the three games of the opening round in Seoul. "This is what we train for."

The last Aussie pitcher who beat Japan in a major international tournament won't be available in Chiba. He still will be sitting in the dugout. Coach Chris Oxspring is the pitcher who outdueled Daisuke Matsuzaka as Australia defeated Japan, 1-0, in the semifinal of the 2004 Olympic Games.

Atsunori Inaba, the manager of Japan, thinks that only team-work can lead to a win: "Our confidence grew after the opening round and the three wins. I'm thrilled about the idea we are playing in front of our fans, but I also think we need to handle Australia with care."

Korea will face the USA at the Tokyo Dome at 7 pm. Manager Kim Kyung-moon picked 31-year old left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong, a 16 game-winner for the KBO Kia Tigers in the 2019 season. Yang was the MVP of the Korean Series 2017. He earned Korea's first win the Premier12 2019 with a dominating effort against Australia on 6 November.
The USA will also stick to their rotation. Manager Scott Brosius will hand the ball to Cody Ponce, who earned the win against The Netherlands on 2 November. He went 5 innings allowing only 2 hits. Ponce, who was born in 1994, split his 2019 season between the Double and Triple-A levels and pitched for two MLB organizations: the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"The loss against Mexico in the opening round puts us in a must-win situation," said USA manager Scott Brosius. "It is true that with hit with some power in Guadalajara, but that was a hitter-friendly environment. The ultimate goal is to qualify for the Olympics. We need to play better, to succeed."

Kim Kyung-moon said Korea needs to focus on one game at a time: "The three wins we enjoyed in Korea are just a start. I need my players to focus on tomorrow's game and avoid thinking about the next games. We will do all we can to win, but first of all I want the team to make the field and enjoy playing baseball."