South Korea’s baseball team, looking to win its fourth straight Asian Games title, won its first game in a cold opener against Hong Kong. The result was a 10-0, eight-inning cold game victory, but it was a game that was far from satisfying.
Ryu Jung-il’s men’s baseball team won their first game of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games baseball tournament Group B with a 10-0, eight-inning shutout victory over Hong Kong at the Shaoxing Baseball Sports and Culture Center near Hangzhou, China on Monday evening (KST). After scoring one run in the first inning and two runs in the fourth, Korea’s bats exploded in the bottom of the eighth inning to score seven runs and force a cold game.
The game was actually a warm-up for the next day’s game against Chinese Taipei. There’s a huge difference in objective power, and in fact, Hong Kong pitchers were consistent with a slower ball that is rarely seen in Korea. However, Korea played a frustrating game until the big inning in the bottom of the eighth.
On the mound, Won Tae-in pitched a perfect game with four innings of one-hit ball, no walks and eight strikeouts. Jung Woo-young, Choi Ji-min, Jang Hyun-seok, and Park Young-hyun (one inning each) followed suit, all pitching effectively and finishing without allowing a run.
On offense, Moon Bo-kyung opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI single to bring in Choi Ji-hoon with runners on first and second. In the fourth inning, after back-to-back singles by Yoon Dong-hee and Park Sung-sung, Kim Hyung-joon walked, but Kim Sung-yoon drew a walk to load the bases and the next batter, Kim Hye-sung, hit a two-run single to make it 3-0.
In the third inning, there were some bizarre calls. The game was delayed for about 20 minutes due to a poor call by the umpires. Kang Baek-ho was batting with the bases loaded and Choi Ji-hoon on second and Noh Si-hwan on first. Kang Baek-ho’s pitch was caught by the Hong Kong right fielder.
Initially thinking that the ball had been dropped, Choi Ji-hoon and Noh Si-hwan were forced to rush home. In the process, Hong completed a triple play, tagging out runners at second and first base. Confident of the triple, Hong headed for the dugout.
But that’s when things got messy. As Hong Kong headed to the dugout, Coach Lee Jong-yeol protested that second baseman Choi Ji-hoon had come home first, and the umpires agreed, calling it a double play.
This time, Hong Kong strongly protested the call, and the umpires instructed Choi to return to first base instead of second, but this was not possible.
In reality, Noh Si-hwan had outrun Choi Ji-hoon and hadn’t even returned to first base, making him an automatic out. Assuming that Choi Ji-hoon returned to second base before the ball, it would be legal to play the next play with two outs and Choi Ji-hoon at second base.
However, the umpires did not correct the call. Instead, they left the runner on second and first base with no outs and played the next play. It seems that the umpires didn’t even recognize the error in the first place. In the end, the Korean coaching staff realized it was a blown call and played the play with two outs.
Playing in a chaotic situation, South Korea eventually broke through with a big inning in the eighth. With one out, Moon Bo-kyung led off with a walk, followed 안전놀이터 by a double by Yoon Dong-hee. A pair of errors and a sacrifice fly by Park Sung-hyun brought in seven runs to make it 10-0 and seal the victory.
According to the tournament rules, a cold game is declared when the score is 10 points or more after the fifth inning. Accordingly, Korea ended the game without playing the ninth inning.
Korea will play the second game of the tournament against Chinese Taipei at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 2 at the same venue. A win here would give them a virtual lock on first place in the group.