Korea ousts world champion Taiwan; Habagat SEA titlist
KOREA dethroned reigning world champion Chinese Taipei with a stunning 6-5 victory yesterday to reach the Pony International World Series for the first time even as the Philippine Habagat kept their Southeast Asian crown at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium.
Undaunted by the top-rated Taiwanese, who prevailed 6-2 in their duel in pool play, the Koreans mustered enough strength to hold off a last-ditch assault by the defending champions in a pulsating final twice delayed by rain.
The Habagat later shut out Indonesia, 12-0, in their consolation battle as the hosts ended the tournament on a positive note.
The Filipinos split their four matches in the six-nation event, losing to Japan and Taiwan on consecutive days that relegated them to a battle for the regional title against the overmatched Indonesians.
While the Habagat struggled to match up against the power-hitting Taiwanese Tuesday, it was a different story against the Indonesians, whom they peppered with 13 hits.
And although the game went the full distance, unlike their 26-1 win over Russia on opening-day, the Habagat still had enough quality on the mound with Stephen delos Santos, Naoki Akita, RJ Aranzanzo, and Enzo Montemayor combining for a two-hitter.
The Habagat opened up a 6-0 lead after three innings, before adding three in the sixth to put the outcome beyond doubt.
In a match that lasted four hours, the Koreans held their ground in the last four innings in the face of a Taiwanese onslaught to earn the right to represent Asia Pacific in the World Series slated Aug. 1-4 in Los Alamitos, California.
“It’s a well-deserved win,” Korea coach Lee Hee-jun said through an interpreter. “The boys played well and they displayed teamwork and great team spirit throughout the tournament.”
Shin Geon-hee delivered two RBIs and one run, while Kim Dae-han shut out the rallying Taiwanese in the last four innings to preserve the victory.
Taiwan actually took a 3-2 lead in the second inning but the Koreans regained the lead with a four-run binge in the next frame behind Shin’s run-scoring double and substitute Cho Won-bin’s two-run single.
Cheng Yi-hsuan’s two-run home run in the bottom third made it 6-5 but that proved to be Taiwan’s last stand.