The U-18 baseball team won a bronze medal thanks to Kim Taek-yeon (Incheon High School)’s 7-inning shutout.메이저놀이터
The U-18 baseball team, led by coach Lee Young-bok (Chungam High School), defeated the United States 4-0 in the bronze medal game of the 2023 World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) 31st World Youth Baseball Championship (U-18 Baseball World Cup) held in Taipei, Taiwan on the 9th. and ended the competition in 3rd place in the final rankings.
Korea showed lethargic performance in the first Super Round against Japan and the second against the United States, losing 1-7 and 1-5, respectively. The national team, which had to play a tight schedule due to rain from the beginning of the competition, had physical difficulties, playing the first match of the super round about 4 hours after the group match against Puerto Rico. In addition, we felt the difference in skill compared to other teams such as Taiwan, and the fielders made minor mistakes in defense, leaving us disappointed.
At least, it was encouraging that Korea maintained its pride by winning the last game of the Super Round against the Netherlands, and advanced to the bronze medal match by finishing 4th in the Super Round, ahead of Puerto Rico in TQB (Team Quality Balance, difference in runs per inning). Coincidentally, the national team’s last opponent in this tournament was the United States, which they faced in the second round of the super round.
Korea: Jeong An-seok (second baseman, Whimoon High School) – Lee Chung-heon (center fielder, Chungam High School) – Yeo Dong-geon (first baseman, Seoul High School) – Park Ji-hwan (shortstop) – Cho Hyun-min (third baseman, Chungam High School) – Lee Yul-ye (catcher, Gangneung High School) – Lee Sang-jun ( Designated hitter, Gyeonggi High School) – Seung-min Lee (left fielder, Whimoon High School) – Yeon Jun-won (right fielder, Busan High School), and there was no significant difference except that Lee Yul-ye wore a catcher’s mask instead of Lee Sang-jun.
Starting pitcher Kim Taek-yeon was on the mound for five days in a row. Starting with 54 pitches against Taiwan on the 2nd, 15 pitches against Australia on the 4th, 21-19 pitches against Puerto Rico on the 6th and 7th (suspended game), 16 pitches against the United States on the 8th, and 24 pitches against the Netherlands on the 9th, many balls have already been made. threw it However, coach Lee Young-bok wanted to do his best until the end to secure his place, and made the choice to push Kim Taek-yeon as the starter.
The United States is Manuele Marin (shortstop) – Derek Curiel (center fielder) – Connor Griffin (right fielder) – Perry Moreland (first baseman) – Nolan Treiger (catcher) – Bryce Rayner (left fielder) – Burke – Lee Marbeus (catcher) ) – Carter Johnson (third baseman) – Koy James (second baseman) The lineup was formed in that order. The starting pitcher is Cooper Williams.
In the top of the first inning, after leadoff Jeong An-seok got on base with a single, Korea moved to third base due to the opponent’s wild pitch and Lee Chung-heon’s sacrifice bunt, and hit home on Yeo Dong-gun’s triple with one out and third base, giving the team the first run. Here, follow-up batter Park Ji-hwan brought home runner Yeo Dong-geon on third base with a bunt hit, making the score 2-0.
Starting pitcher Kim Taek-yeon ended the bottom of the first inning with one strikeout, and gave up a hit to leadoff hitter Moreland in the bottom of the second, but finished the inning without allowing a run. In the bottom of the third inning, he struck out two and continued his scoreless streak.
Korea, which needed an additional point, scored one point in the top of the fourth inning. After the U.S. put its second pitcher, Matthew Chapman, on the mound, leadoff hitter Cho Hyun-min reached base with a single, and after Lee Yul-ye’s sacrifice bunt, Sang-jun Lee helped second base runner Hyun-min Cho score with a timely hit with an RBI. The score is 3-0.
Korea clearly scored in the top of the sixth inning. This time, leadoff hitter Cho Hyun-min created an opportunity with a walk, and after Lee Yul-ye’s sacrifice bunt and Sang-jun Lee’s fly ball, Seung-min Lee hit a triple with 2 outs and runners on second base. Meanwhile, second base runner Cho Hyun-min hit home and the pendulum tilted toward Korea.
Kim Taek-yeon, who did not score a point in the bottom of the 4th or 5th inning, ended the bottom of the 6th inning with a three-way strike, and came on the mound in the bottom of the 7th to end the game on his own. He struck out two outs on Griffin’s fly ball to right field and Moreland’s swing-and-miss, and clinched the bronze medal with Levi Clark’s ground ball. The moment the game ended, all the players came out to the ground and shared their joy.
The presence of Seung-min Lee, who hit two hits in the batting lineup, and Hyun-min Cho, who reached base three times, was significant. In addition, the even performance of the batters, with seven starting batters except Lee Yul-ye and Yeon Jun-won recording at least one hit, also contributed to the team’s victory.
However, no matter what anyone says, the main player in the bronze medal was starter Kim Taek-yeon. He pitched 7 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, and no runs, completing a shutout win against the United States. It is true that they showed an overwhelming performance not only on this day but throughout the competition.
On the one hand, it can be said that the young pitcher had to bear the burden of ‘5 consecutive pitches’. Even in this game, Kim Taek-yeon was responsible for starting and ending the game alone without a single relief pitcher. In the end, it was a good feeling for both the team and the players because they won the bronze medal, but it was the last game for Kim Taek-yeon and his national team that left a feeling of uneasiness.
Especially when young athletes appear in international competitions, similar situations are repeated, and everyone agrees on the need to solve the problem. Nevertheless, the entire baseball world needs to reexamine the environment in which players must give their all even before entering the professional ranks and before their talents can fully blossom.
Meanwhile, Japan and Taiwan, who played the final match that evening, had a tight battle throughout the game, and Japan won the gold medal by defeating Taiwan 2-1 after a close game with a one-point difference. The ‘host country’ Taiwan, which lost despite playing an even match, ended the competition with a silver medal.