SEOUL, South Korea -- Hosting the first round didn't go as planned for Korea, but the Pool A hosts avoided a worse fate: Having to qualify for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.In what may have been In-Sik Kim's final game as the national team manager, Korea staved off Chinese Taipei
SEOUL, South Korea -- Hosting the first round didn't go as planned for Korea, but the Pool A hosts avoided a worse fate: Having to qualify for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.
In what may have been In-Sik Kim's final game as the national team manager, Korea staved off Chinese Taipei in a frenzied 11-8 victory in 10 innings on Thursday, thanks to Cardinals pitcher Seunghwan Oh, who doused a ninth-inning rally, and Taekyun Kim, whose two-run homer keyed a three-run 10th.
The next round will exclude Korea, with Pool A winner Israel and the Netherlands joining Japan and the winner of Australia-Cuba, scheduled for 10 p.m. ET on Thursday, in Tokyo.
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Korea improved to 15-7 in World Baseball Classic play, and has never lost to Chinese Taipei, but its resilient opponent knocked it out in the 2013 tournament, which is where the questions surface about the back-to-back first-round exits, the future roster and who the next manager could be if Kim doesn't return.
"I think younger managers have felt too much pressure to take on the national team," Kim said. "And I believe there are a lot of talented baseball minds out there who can do the job. But I think the pressure that comes with the position has scared away those people."
Regarding the talent, the Korean manager admitted after Thursday's game that the pitching was not up to par from past national teams.
"We failed to hit pitching [during this tournament], that was the reason why we were defeated, and it also shows how it is important to have good pitchers," Kim said.
During the course of Pool A play, Kim would pull aside his pitchers and implore a couple of them to throw inside, saying even those pitches are difficult for Major League hitters to handle.
That skill difference, in Kim's mind, surfaced after Korea's 5-0 loss to the Netherlands on Tuesday, saying at the time, "The levels of pitchers, defense, etc., I realized that it was a significant gap.
"When we consider the lineup such as [the Pirates'] Jungho Kang, [the Rangers'] Shin-Soo Choo, and [the Orioels'] Hyun Soo Kim, [the Twins'] ByungHo Park, those players, if we had them maybe, including Dae Ho Lee from the No. 3 hitter to the No. 6 hitters, it would have been better. However, when we put this team together, we already knew that they were not available."
With that said, Kim said he added more young players to the 2017 team whom he hopes will learn and grow from this experience.
"We had about 10 players making their national team debuts, and I am sure they learned a great deal playing here," Kim said. "And once they return to the national team in the future, I hope they will form the core of the squad."
Team captain Jaeho Kim agreed with his manager and hoped this tournament will serve as a proving ground for future players.
"I will make a better effort with the young players so we can show a better performance in the future," Jaeho said. "And I will also deliver my knowledge to the younger players so we can perform better in the future."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Chris Han is an editorial producer for MLB.com.