Monday, 22nd April 2024

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Generationally ‘green-lighted’ baseball team loses 2-5 to Dodgers

The generational shift in South Korean baseball is succeeding.

The Korean national baseball team performed at a high level in an exhibition game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, following the San Diego Padres in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Team Korea, led by manager Ryu Jung-il, lost 2-5 to the Dodgers in the 2024 MLB Seoul Series at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 18. The team, which lost 0-1 to the San Diego Padres the day before, finished the series with two losses.

It wasn’t a victory, but it was a harvest. The young players played on an even playing field against elite members of major league teams. They gained valuable experience and revealed the future of Korean baseball. In particular, they showed bravery against the Dodgers’ batting lineup, which has the best firepower in the major leagues.

Rookie pitchers such as Kim Taek-yeon (Doosan Bears) and Hwang Joon-seo (Hanwha Eagles) were able to shut down the Dodgers’ big hitters with their gritty pitches, heralding a rosy future for Korean baseball.

The national team struck first in the bottom of the first inning. Starting pitcher Kwak Bin Kwak (Doosan) allowed a leadoff walk and a stolen base to Mookie Betts to put runners on first and second with no outs. Kwak retired the next two batters, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman, on infield singles to give himself some breathing room.

However, he walked Will Smith and gave up a single to Max Muncy to center field for a run.

South Korea answered back in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Kim Sung-yoon (Samsung Lions) opened the inning with a single to left. Dodgers starter Bobby Miller’s first pitch, a 159-kilometer-per-hour fastball, was technically hit for a double. Kim Hye-sung (Kiwoom Heroes) was no match for Miller’s fastball. Five pitches later, she took a 156-kilometer-per-hour fastball for a two-run double to right.

With runners on second and third, South Korea tied the game at 1-1 on a grounder to shortstop by Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte Giants). Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz) followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 2-1.

In the bottom of the third inning, the game was tied again. Lee Yi-ri (KIA Tigers) took the mound. Lee walked Betts and Freeman to put runners on first and second with one out. Back-to-back singles to Smith and Muncy scored three runs. The Dodgers regained the lead, 4-2.

In the bottom of the fourth, Oh Won-seok (SSG Landers) worked out of a bases-loaded jam, and in the top of the fifth, he got a triple play. In the bottom of the sixth, Kim Taek-yeon and Hwang Jun-seo pitched clean innings.

In the bottom of the seventh, Park Young-hyun (KT) gave up a solo home run to Chris Taylor. South Korea was down 2-5. They were unable to add any runs in the remaining innings and were left with the loss.

At the plate, Kim Hye-sung went 1-for-3 with a home run and a run scored, while Kang Baek-ho went 1-for-2 with a home run and an RBI. On the mound, Kim Taek-yeon and Hwang Jun-seo pitched two innings of one-hit ball with two walks and two strikeouts, while Oh Won-seok pitched two innings of one-hit ball with two strikeouts and no runs.

The highlight of the day came in the bottom of the sixth inning, when Kim shut down the Dodgers’ bats with ⅔ innings of two-hit, two-strikeout relief and 바카라사이트 Hwang Jun-seo with ⅓ inning of one-hit, one-strikeout relief. Together, they erased an inning.

Kim struck out Teoscar Hernandez and James Outman in succession to earn a standing ovation from the crowd. With the bases loaded, Hwang Jun-seo took over for Batong and struck out pinch-hitter Miguel Vargas. Young Guns, who hasn’t even made his KBO debut yet, cooked the big leaguers side by side.

Kim was a second-round pick and Hwang was a first-round pick this year. They have been cruising since spring training earlier this year, immediately recognized as power hitters. During camp, Kim pitched one inning of three-hit ball against the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) SoftBank Hawks’ second team, striking out three, and one inning of one-hit ball against SoftBank’s first team, striking out one.

Hwang Jun-seo has been competing with the seniors for the fifth spot since spring training. He received passing grades for his fastball and pitches. The two rookies have given the major leaguers a taste of their own medicine. Regardless of the outcome of the game, it’s a green light for the Korean national team.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also praised Kim, saying he believes in the potential of Korean baseball.

Meanwhile, Dodgers superstar Ohtani was silent, going 0-for-3. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts against Kiwoom a day earlier, Ohtani went 0-for-5 in the special match of the Seoul Series. On a separate note, Ohtani’s wife, Mamiko Tanaka, was in attendance at the stadium on the 18th.

After the special match, the Dodgers and San Diego will play the official opening two-game series of the 2024 Major League Baseball regular season at the Gocheok Dome on April 20 and 21.

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