By Sports Reporter Sunil Sunder Raj for The Every Day Fan Sports
The USA Baseball team relied on home runs to defeat the Dominican Republic 3-1 in round two of the knockout stage. Now the difficult task would be a nighttime semifinal showdown against Korea at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Korea was coming off a 5-2 loss to Japan.
Team USA already having won the first match-up 4-2 back on July 31st. Triston Casas belted a two-run round-tripper while Nick Allen added a solo blast. Starting pitcher Nick Martinez tossing five innings, allowing one run on four hits and fanning nine hitters.
In the second inning, Team USA managed to strike first against Korea starting pitcher Euilee Lee. Catcher Mark Kolozvary drew a one-out walk, then swiping second base. Facing a 2-1 count, centerfielder Jack Lopez belted a single to centerfield as Kolozvary took off on the play and quickly came into score.
Getting the starting nod for Team USA, Joe Ryan spun four and one-third innings, yielding one on four hits, walking one, and striking out three hitters.
Left fielder Jamie Westbrook providing some insurance in the bottom of the fourth, smashing a solo missile deep into the left-field seats. Korea manager Kyungmoon Kim disputed whether the ball stayed within the foul pole. After video replay, it was determined to be a fair ball.
Busting out the lumber in the sixth inning, Team USA scored five times off five different pitchers. With runners on the corner and out, Mark Kolzvary hit a chopper through the hole into left field as Todd Frazier crossed home plate.
After Nick Allen drew a free pass to load up the bases, Jack Lopez drove in his second run of the game, cranking a single into left field. At the top of the order, second baseman Eddy Alvarez ground out to first base brought home the fifth run of the game for Team USA. Designated hitter Tyler Austin topped off the inning with a two-run bloop single to centerfield.
Replacing Joe Ryan on the mound was Ryder Ryan, who was spectacular hurling a perfect one and two-third shutout innings. Manager Mike Scioscia handed the ball off to Scott McGough in the seventh inning.
Korea centerfield Kunwoo Park led off with a single. Following Park, Hwan Ji Oh roped a double off the centerfield wall. Team USA centerfielder Jack Lopez misplayed the ball on the play, allowing Park to trot across home plate.
McGough recovered to whiff Kyoungmin Hur but second baseman Hyeseong Kim reached on an infield single. At that point, Scioscia brought in left-hander Anthony Gose to pitch. Looking as though Korea might cut further into the deficit, Gose slammed the door registering back-to-back strikeouts.
On the hill for Team USA in the ninth inning, right-hander Anthony Carter brought the fire, fanning the first two hitters of the inning. Facing pinch hitter Euiji Yang, Carter ended the game with a nifty catch on a sharp line drive comebacker to the mound.
Next up for Team USA is a re-match against Japan in the Gold Medal Game on Saturday, August 7th, at Yokohama Baseball Stadium, with the first pitch set for 6:00 a.m. EST and 7:00 p.m. Japan time.