A four-run second became the turning point of the game. Korea protected the lead with solid defence, then handed the ball to untouchable relievers, Kyuyeon Kim and Donghyun Sung.
Thursday evening’s game marked the duel between undefeated teams Korea and Chinese Taipei in the IV WBSC U-23 Baseball World Cup, where the former beat the hosts 6-2 to be in pole position in the Super Round standings.
Korea’s predatory instincts kicked into gear, sensing weakness of their opponents. After getting on the scoreboard with a bases-loaded single in the top of the second, the World No. 3 executed a squeeze bunt with shortstop Hanbyul Kim that forced an error that resulted into to more runs.
Chinese Taipei worked one quick out in the second and then centre fielder Donghee Yoon reached on a dropped fly ball soon after. Starter Hsin Yen Chuang loaded the bases and Korean catcher Songbin Son got to him with an RBI single.
Korea switched to the small ball after that, dropping a bunt from shortstop Hanbyul Kim a couple of steps from home plate. Chuang tried to scoop the ball to flip to catcher Hsiang Chang but sent it beyond the home plate, allowing Korea to score two runs.
Yan Cheng Wang replaced Chuang on the mount, but Korea were not done and welcomed the reliever with another bunt, scoring the fourth run.
Chinese Taipei responded to Korean starter Dohyun Kim as designated hitter Jyun Siang Yang and right fielder Kuo Chin hit back-to-back singles and advanced on a groundout. One run was scored on a wild pitch, and shortstop Yueh Ku Lin singled in the second. The inning ended when Songbin Son caught Yen stealing second base.
Solid defence brought Korea to the end of the fifth with a 6-2 lead. Kyuyeon Kim and Donghyun Sung retired the side in order with four strikeouts in the last two innings.
Korea will face World No. 1 Japan on Friday at 14.30, while Chinese Taipei will play Mexico at 19.00.
Chuang couldn’t get to the ball, Korea scored two runs