After striking gold at the Hangzhou Asian Games with a squad centered around players in their fourth year of professional baseball, South Korean baseball coach Ryu Joong-il, 60, reached the final of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 with players in their 24th year of professional baseball.
South Korea defeated Chinese Taipei 6-1 in the third game of the APBC qualifier at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, on Aug. 18.
After a 3-2 extra-inning victory over Australia and a 1-2 loss to Japan, Korea defeated Chinese Taipei to finish second with a 2-1 record.
They will play for the trophy against ‘nemesis’ Japan (3 wins) at the same venue at 6pm on the 19th.
“Today’s offense worked well from the beginning against Chinese Taipei,” said Ryu, who met with the media after securing a spot in the final. “Starter Won Tae-in (Samsung Lions) pitched well until the fifth inning, and the bullpen did a good job,” he said, adding, “The future of Korean baseball is bright, especially with the growth potential of our pitchers.”
On the day, Won Tae-in pitched five innings with three hits and one run.
Kim Young-gyu (NC Dinos), Choi Seung-yong (Doosan Bears), Choi Ji-min, and Jung Hae-young (KIA Tigers) also pitched the remaining four scoreless innings.
The Korean offense scored six runs on 10 hits and eight walks. The early scoring made the game easy.
“Chinese Taipei starter Wang Yen-chung gave up a lot of walks, so we had a chance to score early in the game,” Liu recalled. “We scored four runs in the second inning and easily won the game.”
On Sunday, South Korea will face Japan, whom they defeated by one run in the preliminary round, for the title.
“I’m really looking forward to the game,” Ryu said, adding, “Of course, we want to win, but we’ll do our best.”
At the Hangzhou Asian Games, South Korea lost to Chinese Taipei in the first game, but beat them again in the final to win their fourth straight Asian Games title.
Ryu and his “young Korean team” will be looking to upset Japan at the APBC.
Kwak Bin Kwak (Doosan Bears) will start for Korea in the final, and Tatsuya Imai (Seibu Lions) for Japan.
Both pitchers are “fastball” right-handed pitchers who throw fastballs.
Ryu says, “Imai has a fastball and a good changeup. I’m curious to see how our batters will handle him. I expect Kim Hwi-jip (Kiwoom Heroes) and Kim Joo-won (NC) to hit well,” said Ryu, “Kwak Bin is a Korean right-handed ace. I hope he pitches well in the final.”
At the Hangzhou Asian Games and the APBC, Ryu confirmed the potential of Korean baseball.
“I thought the Hangzhou Asian Games was a generational change for the national team. I think the young players’ skills have improved during the APBC,” he said, “and I hope they will perform well in the Premier 12 and the World Baseball Classic (WBC).” 토토