‘Two runs against Japan’ Lee Lee-ri “I relaxed when I prevented a run in the bottom of the first inning”

It wasn’t a complete shutout, but it was a solid outing. Left-hander Lee “Young Gun” Lee started the game against Japan and went six innings on his own.

The South Korean baseball team, led by head coach Ryu Jung-il, lost 1-2 to Japan on Sunday in the second game of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 qualifier at the Tokyo Dome in Japan. Korea’s record at the tournament is 1-1. Japan, on the other hand, has won two straight games and will advance to the finals regardless of the outcome of the game on Aug. 18.

Korea’s lineup was Kim Hye-sung (2B), Kim Do-young (3B), Yoon Dong-hee (R), Noh Si-hwan (1B), Moon Hyun-bin (designated hitter), Kim Hyung-joon (catcher), Kim Joo-won (shortstop), Park Seung-gyu (right fielder), and Choi Ji-hoon (center fielder). Kim Do-young was moved up to the second spot, Choi Ji-hoon was moved to the ninth spot, and Park Seung-kyu was given a chance to start. There were changes big and small.

Japan’s lineup was Yuki Okabayashi (center field), Kozono Kaito (shortstop), Shota Morishita (left field), Shugo Maki (first base), Teruaki Sato (third base), Chusei Mannami (right field), Shogo Sakakura (catcher), Makato Kadawaki (second base), and Yuki Nomura (designated hitter).

Contrary to expectations, the Japanese bats struggled to hit Japanese starter Chihiro Sumida throughout the game. From the top of the first inning until three innings later, the batting order hadn’t gotten a single hit or walk.

In the meantime, Lee struggled a bit against the Japanese bats. Facing leadoff hitter Okabayashi, Lee failed to throw a strike on a 2-2 count, and his six-pitch slider sailed outside. The result was a walk.

After allowing three straight singles to load the bases after Kim Hyung-joon’s stolen base, Lee induced a swinging strikeout from Sato and then got Mannami to fly out to center field to end the inning without a run.

After retiring the side in order in the bottom of the second, Iiri was shaken again in the top of the third when leadoff hitter Okabayashi walked. Kaito followed with a single to right, advancing Okabayashi to third, putting runners on first and third with no outs. Morishita added a single to load the bases.

Facing Maki with the bases loaded, Irie induced a grounder to short, stranding the tying run at first base. He couldn’t prevent the runner from scoring, but took solace in minimizing the damage. Sato struck out the next two batters to end the inning without further damage.

Lee gave up a run in the bottom of the fourth. Leadoff hitter Mannami hit a solo shot over the center field fence. Mannami’s concentration was on full display as she didn’t miss the throw. It was Lee’s first hit of the game.

However, after getting out of the inning without further damage, Lee finished the fifth and sixth innings without allowing another run before handing the mound over to Oh Won-seok for the top of the seventh. Lee held on to a two-run lead through big and small crises and achieved a quality start. Coach Ryu Jung-il said, “First of all, starter Lee Yi-ri had a crisis at the beginning, but he handled it well. He gave up three strikes, but I think he pitched well,” encouraged Lee.

After the game, Lee attended the official press conference with Ryu and said, “It’s my first time starting against Japan, but I think I had fun and pitched well, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming tournament.” “Compared to the WBC (in March), the team composition is different, but I think I hit well because the batters set their own strike zones, but I got out of a big jam and didn’t give up many runs,” Lee said.

Lee’s last outing in relief against Japan in the second game of Group B of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) Round 1 in March was a bit of a disappointment, going ⅓ of an inning and striking out one. Compared to that outing, both the content and outcome of today’s game were in line.

“Personally, I was able to pitch with a good balance, and I think I was very nervous at the end of the first inning, but when I stopped it, I relaxed a little bit, and I think it went well after talking with pitching coach Choi Il-un,” Lee said. “I hope that both Korea and Japan will develop and meet on the international stage in the future.” 캡틴토토

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