TOKYO, Starting a must-win game for South Korea against the Czech Republic at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Sunday, right-hander Park Se-woong gave his team just the kind of tidy outing it needed.
Park tossed 4 2/3 innings of one-hit ball, striking out eight with an array of pitches.
Park struck out five of the first six batters he faced. They were fooled by Park’s sliders and curveballs, and couldn’t catch up to his fastball high in the zone.
Park was selected to the national team ostensibly because he profiles as a groundball pitcher. Though the Czech Republic boasted some powerful hitters, the thinking within the South Korean camp was that those hitters would have trouble against breaking balls and wouldn’t be able to get off-speed pitches in the air.
Park didn’t need much help from his infielders to gobble up grounders, though.
He recorded two strikeouts in the first and then struck out the side in the second. Two groundouts sandwiched a strikeout in the third, and Park went groundout-flyout-groundout in the fourth.
He made 48 pitches through four and appeared as though he’d be able to go at least five innings within the pitch count limit of 65.
Martin Cervenka led off that frame with a double, the first Czech hit off Park. The right-hander struck out the next two batters but then his pitch count reached 59.
Instead of letting Park finish the inning, manager Lee Kang-chul summoned Gwak Been from the bullpen. Gwak struck out Willie Escala to let Park off the hook and keep the Czechs off the board.
The offense staked Park to a 5-0 lead after the first inning and added another in the second, making it a rather stress-free day for the pitcher.
Source: Yonhap News Agency