Archive for November, 2019

United States Makes it to Bronze Medal Game Versus Mexico

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

The winner of the bronze medal game between the United States and Mexico will qualify for the Olympics. Mexico has beaten the United States in a game earlier in the tournament. Korea has qualified because they are in the gold medal match and Japan has already qualified for being the host. Because the top two teams from the Premier 12 qualify and Japan has already qualified, the winner of the bronze medal game becomes the second team to qualify for the Olympics.

The United States has to thank Taiwan for getting them to the bronze medal game. They beat Australia yesterday. If Australia had won they would have played in the bronze medal game versus Mexico.

Taiwan 5 Australia 1

In international competition Australia has always had trouble scoring runs. That came back to haunt them again as Taiwan pitchers held their hitters to five hits. The only run Australia scored was on a solo shot in the sixth by Logan Wade that tied the game 1-1.

Taiwan put the game away in the eighth when they scored four runs. The first was driven in on a Wei-Chen Wang single. The last three scored when Che-Hsuan Lin deposited a ball into the left field bleachers for a three run homer. For Lin it was his first homer and first three runs driven in for the tournament.

Chih-Wei Hu pitched well for Taiwan, hurling five shutout innings and allowing just three hits. Stephen Kent shut down the Taiwan bats after they scored a run in the third, throwing four shutout innings and allowing just two hits. Hu did not allow a run in his two appearances, working 8.2 innings. Kent has the most innings pitched of any reliever, four appearances with 11.1 innings and a 1.59 ERA.

Australia did get opportunities to score, advancing a runner to second in four of the nine innings they batted.

Japan 10 Korea 8

This game did not really count for anything except bragging rights. Today they play again for the gold medal. Japan erupted for six in the third to win this game. Korea bounced back for five in the fifth but they never could capture the lead.

Neither team felt a need to use their starters, or if they did they were replaced after a couple innings. Seiya Suzuki did get one RBI to increase his tournament RBI lead by five (12 RBIs). Korea’s young superstar Baek-Ho Kang got his first start in the tournament and drove in three runs.

Tsutsugo Posted by Bay Stars

Friday, November 15th, 2019

Let the bidding begin. Yoshitomo Tsutsugo was posted by the Yokohama Bay Stars today. He now has 30 days to negotiate with major league teams, with a release fee given to the Bay Stars depending on the value of the contract.

Tsutsugo is a player that major league teams would want. He has the potential to be a 20 plus homerun hitting outfielder. The park in which he played in was a hitter’s park which may have aided his 30 to 40 plus homerun totals. He also showed a pretty good ability to make contact, though last year he seemed to strikeout at an alarming rate, far more than he has in the past.

His lack of speed will limit him defensively in the outfield. This could restrict him to an American League team where the designated hitter is an option, though after the next collective bargaining agreement is settled the DH could be used in both leagues.

With the posting comes the announcement that Tyler Austin signed with the Yokohama Bay Stars. Don’t be surprised by Tyler hitting 20 plus homeruns each year with the Bay Stars.

United States Survives Premier 12 Scare

Friday, November 15th, 2019

No one said this would be easy, especially with players on the major league roster prohibited from playing in the Premier 12. The United States overcame a 2-1 deficit to defeat Taiwan 3-2 to keep their hopes alive of qualifying for the last two spots in the Olympcis. Korea bounced Mexico 7-3, tacking on a second straight loss to the once undefeated team.

United States 3 Taiwan 2

The United States trailed 2-1 until Brent Rooker slugged a two run homer to give the United States a 3-2 lead and keep their slim hopes of qualifying for the Olympics. Taiwan saw all their hopes dashed with the two run bomb.

Sheng-Feng Wu had stymied the United States bats after they had scored an early run in the first inning on an Andrew Vaughn RBI single. After the single by Vaughn Wu did not allow a runner to reach second, striking out six and limiting the United States bats to one hit through the sixth inning. In the bottom of the seventh veteran Erik Kratz singled. After Wu struck out Robert Dalbec for the second out he gave Rooker too good a pitch to hit and he mashed it into the left field bleachers.

Taiwan had tied the game in the top of the third after a walk and single put runners on first and third with no outs. A ground out double play allowed a run to score to tie the game. Taiwan went ahead in the top of the sixth on a Chin-Lung Hu solo shot.

The United States bullpen of Noah Song and Brandon Dickson retired the next six hitters to nail down the victory, each pitcher working an inning each. The United States must now hope that Taiwan defeats Australia to get an opportunity at the fourth place match. If Australia wins they would win the head to head tie breaker. Taiwan has been the lone team eliminated.

Korea 7 Mexico 3

The Mexican pitching staff has been excellent throughout the Premier 12. They had a hiccup in the fifth inning when they gave up seven runs. It was all Korea needed to hold down the victory.

Mexico had just taken a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth on a Jonathan Jones two run homer. For Jones it is his third homerun of the tournament. He is now tied with Seiya Suzuki for the lead in runs scored with eight. If he was not batting in the leadoff spot some of those homeruns may have resulted in more runs batted in. He currently has six, five behind the leader Suzuki.

Mexico had gone to their bullpen after one out in the fourth inning. In the fifth Korea sent 11 hitters to the plate to score seven runs. Hyun-soo Kim closed out the scoring with a three run double.

Mexico was able to score another run in the sixth on a Roman Solis double. That would be the extent of their offense. The Korean bullpen shut them down for the final three innings to clinch a spot in the Olympics. Mexico will have to settle for a bronze medal game either against Australia or the United States. If they can win that game they will have qualified for the Olympics.

Japan and Korea will play a meaningless game, since both teams have clinched a spot for the gold.

Australia Shocks United States in WBC

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Australia had not won a game in the Super Round and were virtually eliminated from qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12. They really had nothing to play for in their game against the United States. They rose to the occasion and shocked the United States team, sending them down the path of elimination. Japan also sent Mexico down to defeat for the first time, leaving no team undefeated in this Premier 12.

Australia 2 United States 1

Australia scored all their runs in the first when they started the inning with a double sandwiched between two walks. Aaron Whitfield drove in both runs with a one out single up the middle, Logan Wade getting thrown out at third on the play.

Australia turned to Timothy Atherton to silence the United States bats. He limited them to one hit and did not allow a runner to reach second in his 5.1 innings of work. In the sixth inning the United States team finally put two runners on base thanks to two walks issued by Peter Moylan. Andrew Vaughn grounded out to short to end the threat.

Mark Payton hit a solo homerun in the bottom of the eighth to close the gap to 2-1. But without the homerun the United States bats could not get a rally going, only once getting a runner to second base. Jon Kennedy retired the final two hitters to secure the victory.

The United States must hope that either Taiwan and Australia fail to win a game to get into the bronze medal match and hope for a third place win to qualify for the Olympics. The United States won the head to head battle against Taiwan, but were losers against Australia and Korea. A three way tie would go to a complicated tie breaker.

Japan 3 Mexico 1

Japan pitchers allowed just one hit in the game, a Jonathan Jones solo blast in the fourth inning to defeat Mexico. Shota Imanaga struck out eight hitters in his six innings of work. The Japanese bullpen struck out seven of the ten hitters they faced to raise that strikeout total for the game to 15.

Japan scored early off Mexican pitcher Horacio Ramirez, netting all three runs in the first two innings. Seiya Suzuki and Kensuke Kondo contributed RBI singles in the first inning. Hayato Sakamoto added an RBI single in the second.

Suzuki leads all players in RBIs with 11. The closest player to him is Robert Dalbec with seven. He is also hitting .476 and his eight runs scored is more than any other player. He also leads all players in homeruns (3) and triples (2) and added two doubles. Seven of his ten hits have gone for extra bases. Major league scouts are salivating at what he could do in their outfield.

Top Lefthanded Pitching Prospects in the Minor Leagues

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Below are myworld’s top ten lefthanded pitching prospects in the minor leagues. In the past lefthanders were not noted for their blazing fastball, but this group has a couple arms that can throw heat. Three teams account for six of the ten lefthanders.

1. MacKenzie Gore (Padres) - He may be the best minor league pitching prospect in baseball, not just the best lefthander. The Padres made him the third pick of the 2017 draft. He dominated that year in seven starts, limiting opponents to a .184 average with 14.3 whiffs per nine innings. The 2018 season was plagued by blister problems which prevented him from gripping the ball. That did not seem to be a problem last year as he dominated the California League (1.02 ERA and .137 average). A promotion to AA saw a few more struggles (4.15 ERA) but he is ready to tackle that level again in 2020. Gore is not a flame thrower with a fastball that sits on the upper edges of the low 90s. It is his ability to throw three above average secondary pitches with excellent command that sets him apart from the other pitchers. He could see some time with the Padres next year if the Padres feel they need him to fuel a playoff appearance. If no playoffs are in sight there is no incentive for the team to promote Gore too early.

2. Jesus Luzardo (Athletics) - The Nationals made Jesus their third round pick in 2016. They traded him and Blake Treinen to the Athletics in a desperate call for bullpen help, acquiring Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle. Ironic that Treinen became one of the best relievers in baseball in 2018. Jesus was also a student from Parkland High, which was subject to a mass shooting a year after he left. A left shoulder strain delayed the start of his 2019 season and limited him to just 11 minor league appearances. He did well enough that he got to appear in relief in six major league games, limiting hitters to a .119 average. Luzardo throws heat, hitting the high 90s with his fastball but sitting in the mid-90s. His secondary stuff is not as strong as Gore, but he does have command of his pitches, which sometimes is half the battle. He could compete for a spot in the starting rotation in 2020 but if he fails to make it expect to see him before mid-season. He did have Tommy John surgery prior to the draft back in 2016, which was one of the reasons he dropped to the third round. He also became the first player born in Peru to play in the major leagues.

3. A.J. Puk (Athletics) - The Athletics have two of the best lefthanded pitchers in baseball. Puk was drafted by the Athletics in the first round of the 2016 draft. A good spring in 2018 appeared to win him a spot in the Athletics rotation but a torn UCL in spring resulted in Tommy John surgery and an absence from the 2018 season. He got a late start to the 2019 season and the Athletics used him mostly out of the bullpen. Control issues left his minor league ERA high (4.97) but the Athletics saw enough to promote him to the major league club where it dropped to 3.18. Puk may be best in the bullpen with a fastball that easily hits the high 90s and a nasty slider. He is still working on a consistent third pitch and his command is spotty, which leaves a starting rotation spot up in the air unless he can improve those skills. Expect him to make the Athletics in 2020, either in their rotation or as a setup part time closer.

4. Brendan McKay (Rays) - The Rays drafted McKay with the fourth pick in the 2017 draft with the intent of making him a two way player. In college he was primarily a hitter that was used as a starter, winning the Golden Spikes award because of his bat (.341, 18, 57), but also showing some promise with the arm (11-3, 2.56). When he got to the Rays his arm soon surpassed his bat, resulting in a quick promotion to the majors. While they may use him as a DH it appears McKay will be needed most in the starting rotation. He dominated in the minor leagues in 13 starts (1.10 ERA) last year but not so much in the majors in 11 starts (5.14 ERA). His bat was absent most of the year (.200, .629 OPS). McKay has excellent command of his pitches, with a fastball that sits just below 95 and quality secondary pitches that should get better the more he pitches. Expect him to be in the starting rotation for the Rays in 2020.

5. D.L. Hall (Orioles) - The Orioles had a number of exceptional performances from their starting pitchers last year in the minor leagues. Hall was at the top of that list. The 2017 first round pick was a strikeout machine, whiffing 116 hitters in just 80.2 innings in High A. The opposition only hit .189 off him. The fastball screams across the plate with a combination of heat and movement, making it a tough pitch to make solid contact. He can supplement that heat with a solid changeup that could still use some improvement in consistency. The big issue is finding the plate. Last year he walked 54 batters in 80.2 innings. This left his ERA at a high 3.46 and kept his innings count low. Next year Hall should see AA Bowie with an opportunity to pitch for the Orioles in 2021.

6. Brailyn Marquez (Cubs) - The Cubs are always in search of pitching, but they may have found an arm they signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2015 for $600,000. He stands at 6′4″ and his fastball was clocked at 99 last year. Last year was his first season in full season ball and he finished the season with lots of whiffs (128 in 103.2 innings) and a low opposition batting averages (.224). His secondary pitches need improvement and he needs to find the plate more, last year walking almost one hitter every two innings. Next year he should repeat high A with a late season promotion to AA. His debut with Cubs should be sometime late in 2021.

7. Tarik Skubal (Tigers) - The Tigers traded for Franklin Perez and have three starting pitchers who were first round picks that they hope will eventually see the rotation. Tarik was a ninth round pick in 2018 that has come out of nowhere to put his name in the hat. Myworld would be surprised if anyone put him on a top 30 prospect list after he was drafted. Last year he was one of the Tigers best pitchers, striking out 179 hitters in 122.2 innings and limiting the opposition to a .196 average. This now puts him ahead in the depth chart of a few number one draft picks. His fastball can go north of 95 but it generally sits at the southern range with lots of late life that makes him difficult to hit. His curveball is his swing and miss pitch, but his change needs to gain more consistency if he wants to continue to fool hitters as he climbs the minor league ladder. Last year he pitched well in AA so that could portend a major league opportunity in 2020. The Tigers have a couple pitchers who could get an opportunity to pitch before Tarik so he may have to wait until 2021.

8. Adrian Morejon (Padres) - Adrian was the ace of the Cuban Under 15 rotation when they won the gold medal back in 2014. It netted him the MVP award. Two years later, as a 16 year old, he had already defected to the United States. The Padres whipped out a $11 million bonus to sign him. Adrian has not dominated at the minor league level, despite having a fastball that registers between 93-97. He is only 20 years old and pitching in AA so maturing is still an issue. His large body frame (6′1″, 210) has struggled to stay healthy, which has prevented him from pitching the innings he needs to refine his pitches. Despite his young age, the Padres promoted him to the major leagues, but he had little success (10.13 ERA and .385 opposition average in 8 innings). The Padres should start him at AAA next year, watch his innings count and if he stays healthy and has success promote him mid-season. He won’t be the ace of a rotation like he was for his 15 and under team, but he will make a solid mid-rotation starter.

9. Justus Sheffield (Mariners) - Justus has bounced around. The Indians drafted him in the first round in 2014, traded him to the Yankees for Andrew Miller in 2016. The Yankees had him packing his bags again after the 2018 season, trading him to Seattle for James Paxton. Sheffield had a good minor league season in 2018 resulting in a promotion to the Yankees in September. Last year he struggled to throw strikes, which resulted in a number of homerun balls (12) and walks (41) in his 55 innings of work in AAA. A demotion to AA saw his numbers improve and gave the Mariners a reason to promote him to their big league club. Justus throws in the mid -90s and gets swings and misses with his slider. Throwing strikes has been his biggest challenge. Expect him to compete for a starting rotation spot in 2020.

10. Matthew Liberatore (Rays) - The 2018 first round pick of the Rays does not have a heater that spits fire as it crosses the plate. He sits in the low 90s but can touch the mid-90s if he reaches back and slings it. He stands at 6′5″ so he has an intimidating plane when he stands on the mound. His curveball is his best pitch, garnering most of his swings and misses. He also shows a quality changeup that seems to make his fastball show more carry as it crosses the plate. In his first full season Matthew pitched well in low A, putting together a 3.10 ERA in 15 starts. He generates a lot of ground balls, coughing up only two long balls in his 78.1 innings of work. Next year the Rays will start him at High A with a promotion to AA more likely in 2021. Rays fans may see him as a September callup in 2021,

The Topsy Turvey World of the Premier 12

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Just when there appears to be consistency in the Premier 12 they have a day where they throw you for a loop. Mexico defeated Australia to remain the lone undefeated team in the Premier 12. This should put them in the Top three and qualify for the Olympics. The other two undefeated teams lost, with the United States beating Japan and Taiwan pulling off the big upset with their win over Korea. It just goes to show you that no country can claim superiority in this game of baseball.

Mexico 3 Australia 0

The pitching for Mexico has been excellent. Another shutout, this one started by Eduardo Vera for the first five innings, with three different bullpen mates finishing the shutout. Vera gave up four hits with one walk, while his bullpen was perfect, retiring all 12 hitters they faced. In five games the Mexican pitching staff has not given up more than two runs, beating all five teams they have faced.

Mexico got all the runs they needed in the first inning on a Jonathan Jones leadoff homer. In the fourth Mexico added two more runs, one on a solo homerun from Matthew Clark. Jones doubled in the second run of the inning for his second RBI of the game.

The closest Australia got to scoring was in the third. Daryl George singled and Robert Perkins hit a double to left field. George tried to score from first but was gunned down at the plate. Once the bullpen came on in the sixth it was 12 up and 12 down. Australia no longer has a shot to finish in the top three, which will eliminate them from qualifying for an Olympic berth in the Premier 12. They have two more tournaments to accomplish that.

Taiwan 7 Korea 0

Perhaps the biggest upset of the day. The professional bats of Korea could get only four hits off Chang Li in his 6.2 innings of work. The bullpen closed out the final 2.1 innings to complete the shutout. An embarrassing day for the Korean professional hitters.

The Taiwan bats had no problem battering the KBO pitchers, lashing out 11 hits. The big hit was the Chun-Hsui Chen three run homer in the seventh that put the game out of reach, extending the lead to 6-0. Kwang-hyun Kim, who attempted to play in the major leagues but failed to get a high enough offer to leave the KBO, got the start for Korea and was not effective. He gave up three runs on 8 hits in his 3.1 innings of work.

Korea failed to get the big hits early, leaving two men on base in the first two innings. Taiwan scored two in the second and Korea failed to erase that deficit.

United States 4 Japan 3

The United States kept their slim hopes alive for finishing in the top three with a win over Japan. Jacob Cronenworth, after striking out four times yesterday and stranding eight runners on base came through on this day, driving in the first run in the second with a ground out, scoring Alec Bohm, who had led the inning off with a double. The United States never trailed after that.

Robert Dalbec continued his productive hitting with an RBI double in the third. Alec Bohm, another player who struggled yesterday, leaving a number of runners on base, drove in a run with a single in the fifth. Jordon Adell closed out the scoring for the United States with a solo shot in the seventh.

It was the Suzuki/Asamura show for Japan. The duo was good for Japan in the fourth when they scored their first run with the hot hitting Seiya Suzuki tripling and scoring on a Hideto Asamura single. Asamura drove in Suzuki again with a double in the sixth after Suzuki reached on an error. That combination proved fruitful a third time in the eighth when Asamura drove in Suzuki with a single, after Suzuki had doubled to lead off the inning.

Brandon Dickson pitched a perfect ninth to close out the victory for the United States. Japan was limited to seven hits, five of them by Suzuki and Asamura.

Upsets in the Opening of the Super Round

Monday, November 11th, 2019

Korea beating the United States would not be considered an upset since Korea has the participation of their KBO professional players while the United States team is filled with prospects, but the loss eliminates the United States aspirations for qualifying for the Olympics in the Premier 12. Now they must look to two other qualifying rounds to become eligible for the Olympics. Mexico defeating Taiwan was a bit of a surprise. Japan had a scare from Australia, but eventually pulled it out.

Mexico 2 Taiwan 0

Mexico started Arturo Reyes for five innings and he shut down the Taiwanese bats to just two hits and two walks. Five different pitchers came in from the bullpen and finished the shutout, limiting Taiwan to just one additional hit. Carlos Bustamante closed the game out with a perfect ninth to pick up the save and put Mexico in the driver’s seat with a record of 2-0. Taiwan saw their hopes drop to qualify for an Olympic berth in this series, falling to 0-2.

Roman Solis broke up the scoreless game with a two out solo homerun in the fifth. Mexico added an insurance run in the sixth when Jonathan Jones and Noah Perio started the inning off with singles. Esteban Quiroz drove in Jones with a sacrifice fly to right center.

Taiwan’s best chance for scoring was in the third when a single and walk put two runners on. They had runners on first and third with two out but a ground out ended the threat. They also put runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but that is where they died after a strikeout and fly out ended the inning.

Japan 3 Australia 2

Australia scored the first two runs in the game to put the scare in Japan. A Daryl George double off Shun Yamaguchi to lead off the third and a Timothy Kennelly two out single gave Australia their first run. In the fourth they tacked on another run with a two out Aaron Whitfield single and a Mitchell Nilsson double to up the score to 2-0.

Edgy Japanese fans got a little bit of relief in the bottom of the fourth when Seiya Suzuki launched a solo blast into left field after starter Dushan Ruzic had retired the first two hitters of the inning.

It stayed at 2-1 until the seventh when Japan used the legs of Ukyo Shuto to steal a run. Masataka Yoshida started the inning with a single. Shuto pinch ran for Yoshida. Shuto proceeded to steal second and third and scored on a squeeze bunt to tie the score at 2-2.

In the eighth the lack of control by the Australian pitching staff gave Japan their game winning run. Kensuke Kondo roped a two out double into left center. Australia chose to walk Seiya Suzuki intentionally. Jon Kennedy then had trouble finding the plate, walking pinch hitter Tetsuto Yamada to load the bases and walking Hideto Asamura to force in the go ahead run.

Yasuaki Yamasaki retired the Australians in order in the ninth to seal up the victory for Japan. Australia dropped to 0-2, making it difficult to finish in the top two or three spots to qualify for the Olympics. Japan improved to 2-0 and have already secured a spot for the Olympics as the host country.

Korea 5 United States 1

The United States had their opportunities to beat Korea in this game, stringing together 13 hits, but they stranded 16 runners and Korea went on to win 5-1. Korean starter Hyeon-jong Yang walked the tight rope for 5.2 innings giving up 10 hits and walking two, but only one of those runners crossed the plate.

Korea pounced on Cody Ponce in the first inning for three runs. Jae-hwan Kim smashed a ball over the right field fence with two runners on to give Korea an early 3-0 lead.

The United States had squandered a bases loaded one out situation in the top of the first when the next two hitters struck out. They also failed to get a clutch two out hit in the second inning when Alec Bohm grounded out with runners on second and third with two out. In the fifth Jacob Cronenworth struck out with runners on first and third and two out. He had also struck out with the bases loaded in the first.

In the sixth the United States broke out for their first run on a Brent Rooker solo shot. They actually put runners on second and third with two out in the inning after the solo shot, but Alec Bohm struck out to end the threat.

Korea put the game away in the seventh, rallying after their first two hitters in the inning were retired. Ha-Seong Kim doubled in one run. After the United States changed pitchers Jung-Hoo Lee drove in the second run with a double, increasing the Korean lead to 5-1.

The United States had a runner thrown out at home in the top of the eighth to end that inning. In the ninth they stranded two more runners to drop their record to 0-2. Korea improved to 2-0. Cronenworth stranded 8 runners in an 0 for 5 day with four strikeouts.

Australia Reaches Super Round

Saturday, November 9th, 2019

In a bit of an upset, Australia advanced to the Super Round by beating Canada 3-1 to advance to the Super Round. A Korean win over Cuba left a three way tie for second between Australia, Canada and Cuba. Australia wins the tie breaker. Logan Wade got the game winning hit with a two run triple off Scott Mathieson in the bottom of the eighth to break a 1-1 tie.

Five different pitchers got in the game for Australia. Steven Kent did the brunt of the work with 4.1 innings of shutout ball. Ryan Searle got the last out with a fly out to centerfield to earn the save.

Brock Dykxhoorn made his return to Korea a successful one allowing just two hits in six innings of work. He gave up a run in the first inning after a lead off double by Timothy Kennelly and an eventual sacrifice fly by Robert Glendinning that plated Kennelly. After that he held Australia hitless until the sixth inning when he gave up a two out single to Glendinning.

Canada came back to tie the game in the second off Australia starter Timothy Atherton. Tristan Pompey started the inning with a double and Rene Tosoni drove him in with a double.

It stayed scoreless until the eighth. A lead off walk by Mathieson to pinch hitter Luke Hughes hurt Canada in the eighth. Mathieson also walked Glendinning with two outs to set the stage for the game winning triple by Wade.

In order for Australia to advance they needed Korea to beat Cuba. They did handily 7-0 with six different Korean pitchers combining for the shutout. Despaigne and Gracial continued their struggles with the bat, going 1 for 8 in this game and finishing the three games a combined 2 for 24.

Korea got all the runs they needed after a two run single in the second by Ha Seong Kim. Korea added four more in the fifth inning to put the game away.

Cuba could score only three runs in the tournament in their win over Australia. They were shutout by Canada and Korea in the first and third games. Canada could only score five runs in the three games they played. Australia was also limited to five runs, but advanced to the Super Round as a result of the tie breaker. The tie breaker was the Total Quality Balance between the three teams, a comparison of the runs scored and innings played and the runs given up and innings played.

The standings for the final six in the Super Round (with the top two teams qualifying for the Olympics):

Japan, Korea and Mexico are 1-0. The United States, Australia and Taiwan are 0-1.

Japan Crushes Taiwan

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

While both teams were advancing to the Super Round, the game had meaning because the loser of this game would advance with one loss. Japan put the hurting on Taiwan, crushing them 8-1.

Japan opened the scoring in the first after the issuance of a two out walk. Seiya Suzuki tripled him in and Yoshida Masataka drove in Suzuki with a single. Suzuki then blasted a two run homer in the third to up the Japanese lead to 4-0.

Taiwan had opportunities, stranding two runners in the first and loading the bases with one out in the third, but the lack of a clutch hit proved to be their undoing. They stranded two more in the fourth and fifth and then had to watch Yoshihiro Maru blast an RBI double in the top of the sixth to advance the Japanese lead to 5-0.

The rallies ended for Taiwan after the fifth. Sosuke Genda hit a two run triple in the top of the ninth to extend the Japanese lead to 8-0. In the bottom of the ninth Taiwan was able to score their first run on a Jin-de Jhang single, but it was too little too late.

Venezuela lashed out 16 hits off Puerto Rican pitching in their 7-1 win. The game did not mean anything since both teams were eliminated from advancing to Tokyo.

Korea Advances to Tokyo; Cuba Still in Hunt

Thursday, November 7th, 2019

Cuba stayed alive for the Super Round with a 3-2 10 inning win over Australia. Korea advanced to the Super Round with their 3-1 win over Canada. Cuba must now beat Korea to have any hope of advancing to Tokyo and hope Australia beats Canada to advance on a tie breaker.

Korea relied on their starting pitching again, getting six innings of one hit shutout ball from Kwang-hyun Kim to lead them to victory. Canada responded with five innings of shutout ball from Robert Zastryzny. Both pitchers were sharp in the early going but Korea was able to get to Zastryzny in the sixth.

The rally started with a one out single from Byung-hun Kim, only the third hit off Zastryzny. A walk to Ha-Seong Kim finished the day for Zastryzny and brought in Chris Leroux. He retired the first hitter he faced for the second out, but then loaded the bases walking slugger Byung-ho Park. Jae-hwan Kim then stroked a clutch two out single into right field to score two and break the tie.

Korea went to their bullpen in the seventh. In the eighth they broke through the Korean barrier by scoring the first run off the Korean pitching staff. Dalton Pompey sliced a one out single into left field. Wesley Darvill drilled a double into right field to score Pompey and Canada had pulled to within one.

Korea replaced Deok-ju Ham with Sang-woo Cho. Cho struck out the next two hitters to finish the eighth and retired the side in order in the ninth to secure the victory for Korea and the hometown crowd. It did not matter that Korea scored an insurance run for him in the ninth on a Min-Woo Park single. Korea advances to Tokyo. Canada must beat Australia to advance.

Australia loaded the bases with no out in the first inning but failed to score. A strikeout and fly out throw out at home ended the rally and could have ended any hope for Australia advancing.

Cuba could not get a man on base in the first four innings off Australian pitcher Joshua Guyer. An Alfredo Despaigne single and walk to Frederich Cepeda ended the day for Guyer and brought on the veteran Peter Moylan. He could not put out the fire, giving up an RBI single to Yordanis Samon and the second run scoring when Australia could not turn the double play.

Australia was able to come back in the top of the sixth to tie it. Timothy Kennelly led off the inning with a homerun. A Logan Wade single drove in the second run.

Cuba had an opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the eighth when they put runners on first and third with one out. Yurisbel Gracial failed to drive him in, striking out and Alfredo Despaigne grounded out to strand the runners. Australia put runners on second and third with one out in the top of the ninth but Allan de san Miguel struck out and Timothy Kennelly flied out.

It went to the tenth where the tie breaking rules put runners on first and second. Canada eschewed the bunt and a popout to short bit them. They failed to score. Cuba was successful with their bunt advancing the runners to second and third. Yurisbel Gracial this time did not fail Cuba by hitting one deep enough to centerfield to score the winning run on a sacrifice fly.

Cuban sluggers Gracial and Despaigne are now 1 for 16. Cuba needs their bats if they hope to advance to Tokyo.