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ISR-KOR, USA-JPN managers, players discuss Olympic Baseball quarterfinals

ISR-KOR, USA-JPN managers, players discuss Olympic Baseball quarterfinals
02/08/2021
Japan goes straight to the first semifinal against Korea. Israel will face an elimination game against the Dominican Republic on Tuesday. The winner will then play the US on Wednesday for a spot in the second semifinal.

Korea outscored and outhit Israel, 11-1 and 18-3, respectively, on Monday at Yokohama Stadium to advance to the first semifinal.

FULL GAME REPORT BOX SCORE

Hae-min Park, 2-for-2, and Baek-ho Park, 4-for-4, enjoyed a perfect night at the top of the batting order. Hyun-soo Kim went 3-for-4 with a home run.

"Everybody was in a pretty good mood, a good condition during the game, which was extended from the good mood we had in the ninth inning of yesterday's game," said Korea manager Kyung-moon Kim. "Israel has really good pitchers; however, they have played a lot of games, so they might have been tired today. Also, our hitters are getting better as time goes by."

Starting pitcher Min-woo Kim allowed one run over 4.1 innings of work.

"We studied the Israeli hitters, watching a lot of videos," commented Kim. "I realised they had a lot of aggressive hitters. I usually play very well against aggressive hitters, and that gave me more confidence. I am thrilled everything went along with our plans and preparations."

"We were flat today after yesterday’s win (12-5 against Mexico on Sunday)," commented Israel's manager Eric Holtz, "but we are up for the challenge. We will be ready to go Tuesday night."

Japan beat the United States, 7-6, in 10 innings to remain undefeated and set up a semifinal with Korea.

FULL GAME REPORT BOX SCORE

Japan tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and won it in the 10th.

With runners at second and third and one out, backup catcher Takuya Kai turned the first pitch by reliever Edwin Jackson into a fly to the right. The ball fell unopposed since the US decided to advance one of the outfielders to the infield.

"Our secret is that we never gave up," commented Kai. "Everybody kept playing."

Japan's manager Atsunori Inaba added: "They had five infielders, which took away the squeeze play. We told every hitter that they had to think fly ball."

Both starting pitchers, Shane Baz and Masahiro Tanaka, struggled.

"I didn't make the best effort for my team," said Tanaka. "I had the lead, and I let them reverse it. It's frustrating and painful. Fortunately, the team had great spirit. We always believed we could come back. Personally, all I can do now is get ready for my next chance."

The United States jumped out to a 6-3 lead following Triston Casas' three-run home run in the fifth.

"I just go out and try to put together good at-bats," commented Casas, the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017 MVP. "Tonight, Japan put the ball in play, played great defence and came up with the big hits. I also credit their bullpen."

Tyler Austin added: "Japan tonight was the better team, no question."

Inaba praised the performance of his bullpen, in particular Koudai Senga.
"He didn't have many chances before today, but I think that he gave two very strong innings tonight."

"It's been one of the few times we didn't pitch up to our capabilities," said US manager Mike Scioscia. "Scott McGough went out for the ninth because he knows these players well. He just missed with a couple of pitches. Our destiny is still in our hands."

Japan will now face Korea in the first semifinal on Thursday, 4 August.

"They came from behind a couple of times, so they showed they have good clutch hitters," said Inaba on a final note. "Both teams know how to play under pressure. We want to show them how Samurai Japan can come together as a team."

The United States will need one more win to get to the second semifinal, scheduled for Thursday, 5 August. The US will face the winner of tomorrow's elimination game between Israel and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, 4 August.