Saturday, November 13, 2010

Taiwan opens Asian Games baseball tourney with loss to South Korea

Taipei, Nov. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's national baseball team lost 6-1 to a strong-pitching and power-hitting South Korean team Saturday in its opening preliminary game in the 2010 Asian Games at the Aoti Baseball Field in Guangzhou, China.

Korean slugger Choo Shin-soo, who plays for the Cleveland Indians in the Major League Baseball (MLB), set the tone early with a pair of two-run homers off Taiwanese starter Lin Yi-hao in the first and third innings, as South Korea quickly took a 4-0 lead.

The Taiwanese batters, who were in Guangzhou to defend Chinese Taipei's title won four years ago in Doha, Qatar, were completely dominated by Korean southpaw starter Ryu Hyun-jin before breaking through in the fifth, but they failed to score with bases loaded.

Lin Chih-sheng, whose winning hit helped Taiwan to upset Japan and won its only gold medal in the 2006 Asian Games, drove in Taiwan's only run in the top of the sixth, but the Koreans added two more runs to make it 6-1 in the bottom of the inning.

Despite the game being highly anticipated, the loss is not the end of the world for Taiwan, which is expected to advance to the semifinal round along with South Korea as the top two teams in Group A. If both teams fare well in their upcoming games, they could meet again in the gold medal game.

South Korean players have strong motivation to win the quadrennial tournament. According to Korean military regulations, athletes will receive exemption from 30 months of military conscription if they win gold in the Asian Games.

In other games Saturday, Japan shut out Thailand 18-0 and Pakistan beat Hong Kong 5-3.

China, Japan, Thailand and Mongolia are in Group B, with Japan and China favored to make the semifinal.

Taiwan is scheduled to meet Pakistan and Hong Kong, the less competitive teams in Group A, on Sunday and Monday to wrap up the preliminary round. (By Chris Wang) ENDITEM/J

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