S. Korean star reflects on Japan loss: ‘It will stay with me a long time’

TOKYO, March 12 (Yonhap) -- It has been two days since South Korea suffered a deflating 13-4 loss to Japan at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in Tokyo, but the result has stayed with South Korean star Lee Jung-hoo.

"I don't know when my baseball career will end, but I think it will keep popping up in my head," Lee said Sunday, after South Korea beat the Czech Republic 7-3 for its first win in Pool B. "It still feels so shocking now. I was furious and at the same time, I was thinking, 'What's happening here?'"

South Korea took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third at Tokyo Dome in that game, before giving four runs back in the bottom half of that inning. The bullpen suffered a collective meltdown.

"There's a gulf in talent," Lee admitted. "But at least I got to hit pitches that I saw for the first time. Their pitchers were on a different level. I learned so much playing in that game."

Lee batted 2-for-4 in that loss, the only South Korean with more than a hit.

After this season, Lee will be posted by his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, Kiwoom Heroes, for any interested major league club. If he makes that jump, Lee will be seeing quality pitchers on a regular basis. This WBC is Lee's first international showcase since announcing his intention to reach the majors via posting in December.

Lee also contributed to South Korea's win Sunday, driving in the team's first run during a five-run first inning.

"I was trying to do whatever it took to get the barrel on the ball," Lee said of his first at-bat. "I was hoping to get at least a groundout to bring the runner home from third. It felt good to get the base hit there."

In order to advance to the quarterfinals here, South Korea now has to beat China on Monday night and hope Australia will lose to Japan on Sunday night and to the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon.

"Even though we won today, this is no time to celebrate," Lee said. "No matter how the Czech-Australia game plays out, we will do our best until the end of the China game. As long as you have the national team uniform on, you can never give up."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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