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Updated: September 6, 2018
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Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2018 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

South Korea wins Asian Games

JAKARTA (Indonesia) - South Korea captured the Gold Medal of the Asian Games on Saturday (September 1) by winning 3-0 against Japan in the Final of the multi-sport event. Some days earlier Japan won the Gold in the women softball-tournament of the Asian Games.

The 18th edition of the Asian Games was held in two Indonesian cities, capital Jakarta and Palembang. On August 18, the Asian Games were officially opened by Indonesian President Joko Widodo. It marked the second time that Indonesia hosted the event. The first time was in 1962 when Jakarta also was the playing site. The first Asian Games was organized in 1951 in New Delhi (India). Since 1958, the event is organized every four years.

At the Asian Games in Indonesia, there were 465 events in 40 different sports. There also were two demonstration sports, being canoe polo and eSports (which stands for electronic sports or video gaming). 45 different countries participated in the Asian Games. Amongst the sports again were softball and baseball. Softball is part of the Asian Games since 1990, baseball since 1994. Baseball was a demonstration sport in 1990.

In the baseball-tournament, ten countries participated, which is the most ever for the Asian Games. Laos, Sri Lanka and host Indonesia made their baseball-debut in the Asian Games. Laos is ranked 75th on the ranking-list of the World Baseball Softball Confederation, Sri Lanka 40th and Indonesia 42nd.

The six highest ranked teams, plus host Indonesia, played in the Second Round. Thailand, Sri Lanka and Laos made up the First Round. The games were played at the Rawamangun Baseball Field and the baseball-field of the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex, both in Jakarta.

Thailand, which is ranked 56th, won twice to advance to the Second Round. Thailand shutout Laos 15-0, then won 14-3 against Sri Lanka. In between, Sri Lanka outscored Laos, 15-10.

The Second Round was divided into two groups of four teams. In Group A, Japan remained unbeaten, winning three games. Japan opened with a 15-0 shutout-win against Pakistan. The next day, Japan recorded a convincing 17-2 win against China. Japan closed with a big 24-0 win against Thailand.

Group B was won by Chinese Taipei, which also won three games. In its first game, Taipei nipped South Korea, 2-1, scoring both runs in the first inning. Taipei then won 16-1 against Hong Kong and closed with a 15-0 shutout against Indonesia.

After completion of the Second Round, the top two teams of both groups advanced to the Super Round. The teams that finished in third and fourth played in Consolation Round.

Pakistan ended up in fifth place by winning the Consolation Round after defeating Indonesia (10-2) and Hong Kong (12-2).

In the Super Round South Korea opened with a 5-1 win against Japan, thanks to three homeruns. The team then won 10-1 vs. China. Japan recorded a 5-0 win against Chinese Taipei, which then won 10-0 against China. This resulted in a 3-way tie, meaning the runs given up their respective games were decisive. South Korea finished in first place, followed by Japan and Chinese Taipei.

And so, South Korea and Japan faced each other in the Final on Saturday. South Korea opened the scored with two runs in the first inning and added a run in the third at bat. Japan was limited to only one basehit. Byung-ho Park homered for the Koreans.

It was the third consecutive time that South Korea won the baseball-tournament of the Asian Games. The team also won in 2010 (Guangzhou, China) and in 2014 (Incheon, South Korea). Overall, it was the fifth time that South Korea won the event. Other wins came in 1998 (Bangkok, Thailand) and 2002 (Busan, South Korea). Japan had won the bronze medal in the previous two events, while Chinese Taipei then closed in second place.

The team of South Korea was made up of professional players, who all play in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), which is the South Korean Major League. The team of China was compiled mostly of players of Texas AirHogs, which is a professional team playing in the independent American Association in the USA. In May of this year, the American Association announced that the Tex AirHogs had agreed to a partnership with the Chinese Baseball Association (CBA). During the season, thirty members of the National Team of China rotated on the roster of the AirHogs. The team was managed by John McLaren, who has been active as a Major League-coach for many years. In 2007-2008, he was the Manager of the Seattle Mariners. McLaren also led the Chinese team during the Asian Games.

(September 6)

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