S. Korea defeats Australia in pre-WBC exhibition game

South Korea defeated Australia 8-3 in an exhibition game on Tuesday ahead of the World Baseball Classic (WBC).

Starter Wook Kyu-min tossed four shutout innings, and No. 2 hitter Seo Geon-chang went 5-for-5 at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul to lead South Korea to its third straight victory in the lead-up to the tournament.

South Korea earlier defeated Cuba in back-to-back games last weekend.


South Korea will host Pool A games in the first round against Israel, the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei, starting on March 6.혻Australia has been paired with Japan, Cuba and China in Pool B, with Tokyo as the host city.

The top two teams from Pools A and B will clash in the second round, which will also take place in Tokyo.혻South Korea scored the first run in the bottom third. Leadoff man Lee Yong-kyu drew a walk to start the inning, and came all the way around to score on an ensuing double by Seo.

However, the middle of the order that had been quiet in earlier games was silent yet again. No. 3 hitter Kim Tae-kyun popped out to first, and cleanup Choi Hyoung-woo and No. 5 man Lee Dae-ho both grounded out to third, leaving Seo at third base.

South Korea added three more runs in the bottom fourth, with former big leaguer Ryan Rowland-Smith on the mound as Australia’s second pitcher.혻With one out and men on first and second, No. 9 hitter Kim Jae-ho hit a double down the third base line for a 2-0 lead. Lee Yong-kyu followed up with a sacrifice fly, and Seo hit a single to left to knock in the third run of the frame.

South Korea could have tagged on more runs, but Kim Tae-kyun struck out looking for the inning’s final out.

Australia got a run back in the top sixth, as Mitch Dening hit an RBI single off the left foot of new pitcher Cha Woo-chan. The ball sailed over the outstretched glove of second baseman Seo Geon-chang and into shallow center field, and James Beresford, who’d hit a double off the South Korean left-hander, came home easily.

South Korea responded right away in the bottom sixth, as Kim Tae-kyun delivered an RBI double for a 5-1 cushion.

Australia countered with a pair of runs in the eighth, off South Korea’s third pitcher, Rhee Dae-eun. Allan de San Miguel hit a line-drive solo shot to left field to cut it to 5-2. Trent D’Antonio followed up with a double, and came home to make it a 5-3 game after a wild pitch and a groundout.

Kim Tae-kyun gave South Korea a bit more breathing room with a two-run double in the bottom eighth, and Oh Jae-won’s single later in the inning made it 8-3.혻Though South Korea pounded out 15 hits, the 3-4-5 hitters, Kim Tae-kyun, Choi Hyoung-woo and Lee Dae-ho, went a combined 2-for-10 with a walk and two strikeouts. Both hits belonged to Kim, who did have three RBIs. Choi and Lee were lifted after the fifth inning.

On the mound, Woo, a right-hander for the Samsung Lions with a sidearm delivery, was far from spectacular, but was good enough to keep Australia off the board.혻He worked around a one-out double in the second, and stranded a two-out single in the third inning. He made 65 pitches, 41 for strikes, with a mix of fastball, curve, slider and changeup.

Cha walked the tightrope in his three innings of work. He gave up some well-hit balls — three of them flying all the way to the track — before allowing a two-out double to Beresford and that comebacker off the bat of Dening in the sixth.

Cha gave up another double with one out in the seventh, but escaped the inning unscathed.혻Rhee was just as shaky, giving up a home run to Australia’s No.9 hitter in what turned out to be a two-run eighth inning.