Czech Republic stages late comeback over China for 1st-ever win

TOKYO,-- Martin Muzik smacked a go-ahead three-run homer in the decisive ninth inning, as the Czech Republic rallied past China 8-5 for its first-ever win of the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Friday.

The Czechs, a team made up mostly of amateurs, had blown a 3-0 lead and trailed 5-4 entering the top of the ninth. But after a walk and a double put two men aboard, Muzik turned on the first pitch from China-born Korean reliever Ju Kwon for a towering three-run bomb.

Two batters later, Filip Smola's single made it an 8-5 game for the Czech Republic. Reliever Marek Minarik pitched the final 2 2/3 innings in the victory.

Every team in Pool B has now played. On Thursday, South Korea lost to Australia 8-7, and Japan defeated China 8-1.

South Korea will play Friday's nightcap against Japan at Tokyo Dome.

The Czech Republic scored twice in the first inning, off a fielding error and a sacrifice fly. Then Matej Mensik belted a solo home run in the top of the third for a 3-0 Czech lead.

China was held hitless by Czech starter Daniel Padysak through the first four innings and got on the board against the new pitcher, Martin Schneider, who walked the bases loaded and gave up a fielder's choice groundout to Luo Jinjun.

The Czechs regained their three-run cushion thanks to Filip Smola's bloop single to shallow left.

But China scored four times in the bottom seventh to take a 5-4 lead. First, Cao Jie's sacrifice fly brought China within two. Then Luo's RBI single cut the deficit to 4-3.

Pei Liang tied the game with a single, and Yang Jin's infield single, a comebacker deflected off pitcher Marek Minarik's glove, put China up by one run with six outs to go.

But the Chinese bullpen couldn't make the slim advantage stand, with Muzik and Smola coming through with big hits.

The Czechs will next face Japan at 7 p.m. Saturday, while China will play Australia at noon Saturday, both at the dome.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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