Asia's top seed will be determined Sunday when Japan plays Korea in the Pool A finale. The winner goes to the United States as the top seed and plays the Pool B winner at 1 p.m. (PT) next Sunday at Angel Stadium while the loser plays the Pool B runnerup at 8 p.m. (PT) Sunday.
Korea's players had some added incentive going into their game against China. They were informed before the game that they must continue in the Classic without one of their teammates.
The shoulder injury third baseman and cleanup hitter Kim Dong Joo suffered Friday sliding head-first into first base has knocked him out of the Classic -- and beyond.
While discussing his team's victory, Korea manager Kim In-Sik broke the news that Dong Joo has a broken bone in his left shoulder and won't play again anytime soon.
"I think he has already gone through an operation," the manager said. "A part of his bone is fractured, as it came off at the joint. It has been suggested that he should go to the United States because they have better doctors there. It has not been decided yet."
In-Sik said the injury could sideline the star third baseman for up to three months.
"He is with us in our hearts and we want to do well for him in the remaining games," designated hitter Seung Yeop Lee said.
Korea completed its primary mission here -- advancing to the second round of the inaugural Classic -- and came close to pitching another shutout. That bid ended in the eighth inning when China left fielder Shuo Yang greeted right-handed reliever Jae Hun Chung with a home run to left field.
The Korean team generated so much offense against the outmanned China team that Dong Joo's absence was hardly noticed. Seung Yeop led the 18-hit assault against four China pitchers with two home runs, two singles, a sacrifice fly and five RBIs.
But it's the pitching that put Korea in the quarterfinals in Anaheim next weekend.
Korea used four of its six Major League pitchers in Friday's shutout victory over Chinese Taipei, but needed none of them -- or the other two -- against China, which dropped to 0-2 in the tournament and has been outscored 28-3.
Son needed a couple of batters to find the strike zone, but he settled into a groove and pitched four shutout innings to pick up the win.
Son walked the first batter he faced on four pitches, fell behind the next one with a first-pitch ball, and then suddenly became a strike-throwing machine as 32 of his final 41 pitches were strikes. The only hit he surrendered was a two-out single to ninth-place hitter Yi Feng in the third inning.
"I was thinking about the pitch-count limit in the beginning and maybe trying too hard (to throw strikes)," Son said.
When he departed after the fourth inning, Team Korea had a five-run lead and was in cruise control.
Three of those runs came in the third inning when Korea sent nine batters to the plate. Second baseman Jong Kook Kim started the inning with a double, left fielder Byung Kyu Lee smacked a run-scoring double to left-center, and Seung Yeop drove a Chen Kun pitch into the bleachers in right field for a two-run home run, the first of his two fence-clearing blasts.
"I felt we were a little flat coming out of a big game (Friday night)," China manager Jim Lefebvre said. "I thought our hitting was flat, our pitcher was a little nervous and they took advantage of it. When you don't get a lot of hits, it always looks like your team is down. We weren't getting anyone on base."
The Korean team, meanwhile, had a grand time, putting at least one runner on base in every inning except the fifth when China reliever Li Zheng struck out the first two batters he faced and retired Kab-Yong Jin on a fly ball to center field.
But now they must move on without Dong Joo, a .302 hitter last season.
"Maybe we need to rearrange the batting order," In-Sik said. "We have to make our best order without him."