South Korean national baseball team returned home from Tokyo on Monday, after the young squad finished runner-up to Japan at a new regional tournament.
South Korea lost to Japan 7-0 to end in second place at the inaugural Asia Professional Baseball Championship at Tokyo Dome on Sunday. The competition was open to professional players from South Korea, Japan and Chinese Taipei under 24 years of age -- born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 -- or those with less than three years of professional experience.
South Korea lost to Japan in the first round-robin game 8-7 last Thursday, but bounced back to shut out Chinese Taipei 1-0 the following day.
|Members of the South Korean team attend the awards ceremony at the conclusion of the Asia Professional Baseball Championship at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo on Nov. 19, 2017. (Yonhap)|
Japan's 8-2 win over Chinese Taipei on Saturday set up a rematch against South Korea in the final. South Korea managed just three hits off Japanese starter Kazuto Taguchi, who tossed seven shutout innings, and Samurai Japan's opportunistic offense made the difference on the scoreboard.
Despite scoring just two runs in their final two games, South Korea still showed some hopes for the future. On the mound, right-hander Jang Hyun-sik held Japan to one unearned run over five innings in the tournament opener. Against Chinese Taipei, right-hander Im Gi-yeong threw seven scoreless innings and struck out seven.
At the plate, second baseman Park Min-woo went 4-for-10 with three walks from the leadoff spot. Lee Jung-hoo, the 2017 Rookie of the Year in the Korea Baseball Organization, picked up three RBIs.
Manager Sun Dong-yol, the first full-time skipper for the national team, is hoping to take virtually the same group of players through major international events over the next two to three years, including the 2018 Asian Games, the 2019 Premier 12 and the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Yonhap)