The South Korean baseball team has won its fourth straight Asian Games title. It was especially significant that the young squad overcame Taiwan, a team that has been a source of painful memories for Korea since the late 2010s.
Led by head coach Ryu Jung-il, the team won the baseball final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games 2-0 on Sunday at the Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Center-Baseball in Hangzhou, China. It was the fourth consecutive gold medal for South Korea at the Games, following Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014 and Jakarta-Palembang 2018.
Korea’s lineup was Kim Hye-sung (2B-KIUM), Choi Ji-hoon (SSG), Yoon Dong-hee (RB-LOTTE), Noh Shi-hwan (3B-HAN), Moon Bo-kyung (1B-LG), Kang Baek-ho (designated hitter-KT), Kim Joo-won (shortstop-NC), Kim Hyung-joon (catcher-NC), Kim Sung-yoon (left fielder-SAMSUNG). Pitcher Moon Dong-joo (Hanwha) was the starter.
Chinese Taipei lined up in the following order: Tseng Chong-hsiao (shortstop), Lin Hsuei-wei (left fielder), Lin Li (designated hitter), Lin An-kou (right fielder), Wu Yi-ting (first baseman), Lin Hsiu-hao (third baseman), Li Hsiao-yu (second baseman), Hsien Hao-wei (center fielder), and Lin Chia-hsung (catcher). Left-hander Lin Yumin, who started the team’s loss to South Korea in the second game of the group stage on Feb. 2, was once again in the starting lineup.
As much as the game against Korea, the game against Chinese Taipei was quite a daunting task for South Korea. The team has struggled every time they have faced the Chinese Taipei. After losing 1-2 to the Chinese Taipei in the group stage of the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games, Korea was swept 0-7 in the 2019 Premier12 Super Round and 0-4 in the group stage of this year’s Hangzhou Asian Games. The batting struggles were particularly painful, with the team going 23 innings without scoring.
Korea showed a different side in the final. After a scoreless first inning, they put the pressure on Lin Yumin in the top of the second inning with a double by leadoff hitter Moon Bo-kyung. The next batter, Kang Baek-ho, swung and missed. A wild pitch by the Taiwanese starter allowed Lin Yumin to advance to third base, putting runners on second and third with no outs.
Kang Baek-ho was retired on a grounder to the third baseman, but Kim Joo-won hit a sacrifice fly to left field on a full count, allowing Moon to rush home to give Korea the lead. 레고토토
That wasn’t the end of it. In the next at-bat, Kim Hyung-jun took advantage of Lin Yumin’s first pitch and singled to left, and Kim Sung-yoon followed with a single to center to put runners on second and third. Lin Yumin, who was clearly flustered by the back-to-back fastballs, threw a wild pitch to Kim Hye-sung at second base.
This allowed Kim Hyung-joon to score from third base and the gap between the two teams widened to 2-0. The two runs in the top of the second inning proved to be the difference in the game. With their minds a little lighter, the pitchers were able to put together a no-hitter relay, starting with Moon Dong-joo, followed by Choi Ji-min (KIA), Park Young-hyun (KT), and Ko Woo-seok (LG).