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|Premier 12 Baseball, First Round|
|Venue: Gocheok Sky Dome, Seoul, South Korea|
|Innnigs: Match complete|
South Korea have dominated Australia from start to finish at their opening game of the Premier 12 Baseball tournament, claiming a 5-0 win.
The result leaves Australia needing to beat both Cuba and Canada if they are to keep their dream of making the Super Round – and the Olympics – alive.
South Korea 5
Team Australia will begin one of the most important tournaments in the nation’s baseball history when they take on South Korea in the opening match of the Premier 12 tournament, which also doubles as an Olympic Games qualifier. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage from 9pm (AEDT).
There’s no two ways around this – Australia are going to be right up against it if they want to go to the Olympics next year, where baseball is back on the agenda, alongside softball for which Australia’s women have already qualified.
The Premier 12 tournament is split into two rounds, with the first seeing three groups of four played around the world, before the top two teams from each group head to Japan for the Super Round.
The cut throat nature of baseball at the Olympics means only six teams qualify, and while Australia will have another chance at a final tournament next year, they would much prefer to be the top Asian and Oceanic team at this tournament to qualify now.
That won’t be an easy task though, with strong baseball nations like South Korea and Chinese Taipei in the mix, while Japan have already qualified as host of the Games.
Australia’s group is one they can get out of though, with matches against fifth-ranked Cuba, and tenth-ranked Canada to come in the next 48 hours.
The Aussies do come into the tournament minus some big names though, with pitchers Warwick Saupold and Travis Blackley ruled out, as well as minor league pitcher Daniel McGrath.
That all hurts the green and gold, but they have former big leaguers Luke Hughes and Peter Moylan as well as MLB prospects Robbie Glendinning, Josh Tols and Aaron Whitefield on the 28-man roster, all of whom played roles in Australia’s 2017 World Baseball Classic campaign where they just missed the finals.
Unfortunately, Australia’s form took a hit when they were rolled 7-1 by Chinese Taipei in their final warm-up game.
South Korea are no easy task though. Ranked third in the world and with hosting duties for this first round, the baseball-mad nation will create a likely daunting atmosphere, with their squad mainly picked out of the KBO League.
While Australia don’t have to face Park Byung-Ho, who already has 33 home runs, they do have to deal with leading hitter Euiji Yang, who made base 43 per cent of the time in the recently completed season.
Australia will give a good account of themselves, but they have their toughest challenge first up at the tournament, and it’s hard to see them falling over the line here in what could be a fairly low-scoring game, putting plenty of pressure on over the next two days.
South Korea 3 – Australia 1.
Be sure to join The Roar for live coverage of Australia’s opening Premier 12 clash from 9pm (AEDT) on Wednesday evening and don’t forget to add a comment in the section below.
First pitch: 9pm (AEDT)
Venue: Gocheok Sky Dome, Seoul, South Korea
TV: Live, Fox Sports
Online: Live, Kayo Sports
Pitchers: Dean Aldridge, Timothy Atherton, Joshua Guyer, Samuel Holland, Jon Kennedy, Steven Kent, Peter Moylan, Dushan Ruzic, Daniel Schmidt, Ryan Searle, Joshua Tols, Todd Van Steensel, Luke Wilkins
Catchers: Ryan Battaglia, Allan De San Miguel, Robert Perkins
Fielders: Andrew Campbell, Trent D’Antonio, Wade Dutton, Darryl George, Robert Glendinning, Luke Hughes, David Kandilas, Timothy Kennelly, Mitchell Nilsson, David Sutherland, Logan Wade, Aaron Whitefield
South Korea (squad)
Pitchers: Woochan Cha, Sangwoo Cho, Woosuk Go, Jaehoon Ha, Deokju Ham, Kwanghyun Kim, Youngha Lee, Seungho Lee, Yongchan Lee, Kyeongchan Moon, Jonghun Park, Jonghyan Won, Hyeonjong Yang
Catchers: Seihyok Park, Euiji Yang
Fielders: Jeong Choi, Kyoungmin Hur, Jaegyun Hwang, Baekho Kang, Jaehwan Kim, Ha Seong Kim, Sangsu Kim, Hyunsoo Kim, Jung-Hoo Lee, Byunghun Min, Kunwoo Park, Byungho Park, Min Woo Park