(WBC) Right-hander Park Se-woong to start S. Korea’s must-win game vs. Czech Republic

TOKYO, South Korea will start right-hander Park Se-woong in a must-win game against the Czech Republic at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Sunday.

The announcement came moments after the Czech Republic's 10-2 loss to Japan in Pool B action at Tokyo Dome on Saturday night

The Korea-Czech showdown starts at noon Sunday, also at the dome.

South Korea has lost its first two games and must get past the Czech Republic to stay alive in the tournament, or it will crash out of the first round in its third consecutive WBC.

Park, 27, made his WBC debut in a 13-4 loss to Japan on Friday night. In a debacle of a game, Park threw 11 pitches to cover the final 1 1/3 innings and was the only one among 10 Korean pitchers not to allow a base runner.

Park profiles as a groundball pitcher. Among all qualifying pitchers in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) last year, the Lotte Giants starter ranked fourth overall with a 1.76 groundout-to-airout ratio. Among homegrown pitchers, only Ko Young-pyo of the KT Wiz, also on the national team, finished ahead of Park.

Park will have to keep powerful Czech hitters in check. A team made up mostly of amateurs who have regular jobs away from baseball, the Czech Republic defeated China 8-5 in its inaugural WBC game, launching two home runs in the process.

It is anyone's guess who will pitch after Park out of the bullpen. In the first round, pitchers will be capped at 65 pitches, unless they have to complete a plate appearance, and relief pitching will be at a premium.

South Korean relievers have been roughed up in the two losses. In dropping to Australia 8-7 Saturday, South Korean relief pitchers gave up six runs in 4 2/3 innings. Against Japan, nine pitchers that followed starter Kim Kwang-hyun were charged with nine earned runs on 10 hits and six walks.

In order to advance to the quarterfinals as one of the top two teams in Pool B, South Korea must win both of its two remaining games and hope the Czech Republic beats Australia on Monday.

Source: Yonhap News Agency