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Korea takes early lead, blanks Australia

Korea takes early lead, blanks Australia

TAICHUNG, Taiwan -- Left fielder Hyunsoo Kim's two-run single in the first inning put Korea on the board, and it eventually blanked Australia, 6-0, on Monday in first-round action at the World Baseball Classic in Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium.

Korea was also aided by strong showings from seasoned hitters Dae Ho Lee (3-for-4, one RBI) and Seung Yuop Lee (3-for-5, one RBI). The win keeps the team's hopes alive for a slot in the second round in Tokyo.

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Korean batters led the charge early, scoring three runs in the top of first. Seung Yuop Lee doubled to put runners on second and third, and Dae Ho Lee walked to load the bases. Kim then lined a single to center to plate two runs, and Ahseop Son finished the first-inning scoring with an RBI groundout.

Australian starter Ryan Searle -- a member of the Cubs organization -- continued to have difficulties suppressing Korea's attack in second. He allowed a one-out single to Yongkyu Lee, who scored on a two-out double by Seung Yuop Lee.

Poor pitching by Australian reliever Shane Lindsay led to another run for Korea in the seventh. Keunwoo Jeong reached on a forceout, and moved from first to third on two wild pitches from Lindsay. Jeong then scored on a single to left by Dae Ho Lee.

Korea had a superb opportunity to extend its lead in the eighth when it loaded the bases with two outs, but Jeong flied out. Korea added another run in ninth when Jeong Choi grounded out to score Seung Yuop Lee from third.

The Korean batters delivered 11 hits, while Australia tallied six.

Australia managed to put pressure on Korea's defense in some innings, but failed to drive in any runs. In the first, Mitch Dening reached second following a walk and a balk. However, Justin Huber lined out to right with two outs and left two runners on base. Australia missed another good opportunity to score in fifth. Tim Kennelly opened the inning with a double to left, and that led Korea to replace starter Seung Song with reliever Heesoo Park. Park struck out Allan de San Miguel, then allowed James Beresford to single. Yet Kennelly did not advance, as he appeared to think Beresford's hit was going to be caught. Park then took care of the next two Australian hitters to close the inning without giving up a run.

Song allowed two hits and struck out five over four-plus innings for the win. The loss went to Searle, who allowed four hits and four earned runs in three innings.

Korean manager Joong-Il Ryu said the team's victory came on a balanced performance from both pitchers and hitters.

"Our starter pitched well, and our relievers were strong, too," Ryu said. "Our batters have made a comeback in the game, and Hyunsoo Kim's early two-RBI single certainly helped us."

Australia manger Jon Deeble attributed his club's loss to strong pitching by Korea.

"The Korea team pitched extremely well, and we struggled to get a big hit with runners in scoring position," Deeble said. "It's always tough when you give up three [runs] in the first inning. ... We played falling behind the whole time. Yeah, that was tough."

While Australia is lagging behind at the bottom of Pool B with two losses, it still stands a slight chance to advance to the second round, should it beat the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei defeat Korea on Tuesday. Chinese Taipei is leading the group with two wins, while the Netherlands and Korea have one win each. The top two teams move on to the next round.

Debby Wu is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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