November 20, 2015 11:13
Korea pulled off a stunning come-from-behind victory over Japan in the final inning of the first semifinal of the Premier 12 in Tokyo on Thursday, in what will surely be remembered as one the most dramatic games ever played between the two nations.
The Premier 12 is a baseball tournament organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation involving 12 top-ranked nations.
Japan led for most of the game at the Tokyo Dome, going into the ninth inning with a 3-0 lead.
The Korean hitters were completely stymied by Japanese starter Shohei Otani, who tossed seven scoreless innings, allowing just one hit in the seventh to Jeong Keun-woo. Lee Dae-ho was hit by a pitch in the second to reach first. Nobody reached second with Otani on the mound, as he continued to produce fastballs above 160 kph into the seventh inning. Otani effectively silenced Korea's hitters, striking out 11.
At first, the Korean hitters didn't fare much better against reliever Takahiro Norimoto, who took the mound in the eighth.
At times it seemed to be a replay of the tournament's opening game on Nov. 8 at the Sapporo Dome, which Korea lost to Japan 5-0. In that game, Otani had 10 strike outs in six innings, allowing two hits and two walks and giving up no runs.
Seizing their chance in the ninth, however, Korea's batters came to life, scoring four runs to turn the game around. The more than 40,000-strong Japanese home crowd was left stunned as the Korean defense stood firm and held on to a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 4-3 and advance to the final.
In Saturday's final, Korea will face the winner of Friday's game between Mexico and the U.S.
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