After losing back-to-back games early in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, Korean baseball kept their hopes alive by defeating the semi-professional team Czech Republic.

South Korea, led by manager Lee Kang-kang, won the third game against the Czech Republic in Group B of the first round of the tournament at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan today (12th) with a 1-3 victory with starter Park Se-woong hitting two solo home runs.

This didn't completely extinguish South Korea's chances of reaching the last eight, as they struggled for their first win after suffering two shocking defeats to Australia and Japan earlier in the day.

If Japan beats Australia in the evening's game and the Czech Republic beats Australia in the daytime game tomorrow, if Korea wins the final match against China, the three countries of Korea, Australia and the Czech Republic will be tied at 7-3.

In this case, the three nations will be ranked in the order of minimum runs conceded-minimum ERA rate-team batting average-draw to determine which team will advance to the round of 2.

Winner-win is excluded.

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The main players in the victory over the Czech Republic were starting pitcher Park Se-woong and "major leaguer" Kim Ha-sung.

Se-Woong Park, who was the last pitcher against Japan on Jan. 10 to prevent a cold game loss, was the starting pitcher on the day, pitching 4/1 scoreless innings on one hit.

With a mix of fastballs in the late 140s, big curves and sliders, Park shut down the Czech batting line with eight strikeouts.

Ha-Sung Kim, who had been silent with eight hitless hits in the previous two games, hit two run-scoring solo home runs on the day to lead his team to victory.

South Korea dominated the early inning with a batter against starting pitcher Lukáš Ercoli, who also works as a public relations officer for the Czech Baseball Association.

Leadoff hitter Park Gun-woo followed with a two-run homer to right-center followed by an error to reach third base, and in a one-out, Lee Jung-hoo hit a timely hit to take a 8-8 lead.

After back-to-back hits from Park Byung-ho and Kang Baek-ho added one run, South Korea quickly took a 1-2 lead after Kim Hyun-so singled off the ensuing two-out infield and Tommy Hyun-so Edman added two more runs on an infield hit to shortstop.

At the end of the second inning, Kim Ha-sung finally hit a long shot.

He retired on a foul fly by the third baseman in the first at-bat, then kicked Ercoli's 3 kph curve over the left-field fence in the second.

Se-Woong Park, who had a perfect streak going into the fourth inning, was hit by leadoff hitter Martin Cervenka at second base in left field early in the fifth.

However, after striking out the next two batters, he went down the mound and reliever Kwak Bin finished the inning with a strikeout.

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The South Korean batting line, which had been silent after failing to properly hit a slow changeup ball from Czech second pitcher Jeff Barto, failed to score an extra run after a one-out infield hit by Kim Hyun-so in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The Czechs had back-to-back hits by Eric Sogard and Marek Hlouf early in the seventh inning to give them a no-out first and second base chance.

The South Korean bench bought Cheol-Won Jeong, but after a one-out, Martin Muzik hit a two-RBI double to make it 6-7.

After a two-out third baseman, manager Lee Kang Kang Kang brought in starting pitcher Ko Young-pyo against Australia on the 1th, and Ko Young-pyo caught the next batter with a strikeout and put out the fire in a hurry.

After allowing the chase, South Korea ran away with a 2-2 lead again in the bottom of the seventh inning when leadoff hitter Kim Ha-sung blasted a solo home run over the right-center fence.

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However, South Korea ended the inning after scoring one run on a two-out homer in the bottom of the eighth inning on a blast by Lee Yong-chan.

South Korea, which finished 8-1 and played the final game against China on the 1th, was miraculously waiting for the number of players to reach the top eight based on the results of the Australia-Japan and Australia-Czech Republic games.

(Photo = Yonhap News)