Korean baseball falls to Taiwan, again

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Korean baseball falls to Taiwan, again

Korea once again succumbed to Taiwan during a regional baseball competition, putting another dent in the country’s claim to being Japan’s strongest challenger in the region.

Team Korea, led by manager Lee Yeon-soo, finished third in the six-country Asian Baseball Championship after a humiliating 7-0 loss to Taiwan on Sunday. Korea lost to Japan 4-0 a day earlier.

Japan defended its title at the competition, sweeping its games including a 2-1 victory over Taiwan, who finished runners-up for the second straight time.

Korea walked away from the tournament with wins over the Phillipines (6-3), China (4-0) and Pakistan (5-0). The six-day event was held through yesterday at the Taichung Inter-Continental Stadium in Taiwan.

Since the event was launched by the Baseball Federation of Asia in 1954, Korea has won six titles, the second most behind Japan, a 17-time winner. But Korea hasn’t won a title in 13 years.

Taiwan has emerged as a formidable baseball contender, with the two-time winner finishing second in four of the last five tournaments.

In two other showdowns earlier this year, Taiwan again kept Korea in check.

In the U-18 World Baseball Championship held in Seoul in September, Taiwan dashed Korea’s sixth title hopes with a 7-3 victory and finished third as opposed to the hosts’ sixth-place finish.

In the Asia Series last month, a tournament with six professional teams from five countries in the region, Taiwan’s Lamigo Monkeys knocked out the Korea Baseball Organization champions Samsung Lions 3-0 pressing on to the final, where they lost to the Yomiuri Giants of Japan.

Ha Il-sung, a well-known baseball commentator, said that Taiwan has long been a tough opponent for Korea, adding that Korea’s recent record versus Taiwan is worrisome.

“Taiwan plays powerful baseball,” Ha said. “They come out after a thorough analysis of Team Korea. They shouldn’t be taken lightly.”

Taiwan could frustrate Korean baseball players again when they seek a third straight berth to the final of the World Baseball Classic in March.

The two Asian countries are paired together in Group B with the Netherlands and Australia.

By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]
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