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Korea makes grand statement in rout

Six-run first inning more than enough to down Chinese Taipei

Korea's Jin Young Lee greets the fans after his grand slam in the first inning.  (Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

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TOKYO -- Right-fielder Jin Young Lee belted a grand slam to cap a six-run first inning, and Keun Woo Jeong blasted a two-run shot in the bottom of the sixth to give Team Korea an overwhelming 9-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in World Baseball Classic Pool A action on Friday night at Tokyo Dome.

Following a bases-loaded two-run single to left by cleanup hitter Tae Kyun Kim, Lee connected off Chinese Taipei starter Chen-Chang Lee, who was knocked out after throwing 27 pitches. His control was not there, as he walked three and hit one Korean batter before giving up the homer.

Korea added to its lead in the bottom of the fifth, scoring a run on an infield single by Dae Ho Lee, and Jeong's homer the following inning put the game away. Starting left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu pitched three innings of no-hit ball, striking out three, and was the winning pitcher.

Chinese Taipei could not get anything going and managed just five hits against four Korean pitchers.

"Sometimes you score a lot, other times you can't score at all," said Korean manager In-Sik Kim, whose club did not score much during exhibition games prior to the start of the World Baseball Classic. "Our hitters were hot tonight, so we were able to put a lot of runs on the board."

Winning pitcher Ryu learned three days prior to the game he would be the starter.

"I knew if I did not give up any runs, my team would win, and that's the way it worked out," said Ryu. "I was really excited when they gave me that six-run lead in the first inning."

Manager Kim said he realized he was taking a chance in starting the 20-year-old Ryu, who had not pitched before in Tokyo Dome.

"I had a lot of confidence in him and he came through just fine," said Kim.

Chinese Taipei hurt its own cause by hitting into five double plays.

"Our hitting just did not work out tonight," said Chinese Taipei manager Chih-Hsien Yeh. "The three [Korean] left-handers did a good job on us. We had our chances, but the double plays really hurt us."

Both teams were backed by small but loud cheering sections on their respective sides of the Tokyo Dome stands, with the Korean fans on the third-base side and the Chinese Taipei supporters behind the team's first-base dugout. A contingent of Korean rooters, clad in the team's white jerseys with blue lettering, took up an entire section in the left-field bleachers, no doubt inspiring their players. Announced attendance was 12,704.

The ceremonial first pitch prior to the game was thrown by former Japanese baseball great Isao Harimoto, who amassed 3,085 hits during his career, a Japan pro baseball record. He was also prominent in founding professional baseball in Korea.

By winning Game 2 of the Asia Round, Korea goes on to meet Japan on Saturday night, while Chinese Taipei will play China Saturday afternoon at Tokyo Dome.

Wayne Graczyk is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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