The last semifinal will be round three of Japan versus Korea.
These teams first met on March 5 at the Tokyo Dome. Japan took a 2-1 lead into the eighth when Seung-Yeop Lee belted a 2-run homer off of Hirotoshi Ishii to give Korea a 3-2 win.
The teams met again Wednesday and the stakes were higher as the winner would get a spot in the semifinals and the loser would need help to advance. And this time it has Jong-Beom Lee who delivered the big hit in the eighth, with a 2-run double to give Korea a 2-1 win. But Japan got the help they needed when México beat the USA 2-1 Thursday.
So, the top two teams in Asia battle it out to see who will face Cuba in Monday night's finale.
Korea will start Jae Weong Seo, who raised some eyebrows when he planted a Korean flag on the pitching mound at Angel Stadium after Korea's win Wednesday. Seo has given up just one run in nine innings of work and is 2-0 in the WBC. Korea's pitchers have an ERA of 1.33 and the team has committed no errors.
Japan will start Koji Uehara, who has given up three runs in 10 innings with no walks. Japanese pitchers have walked just 10 batters in their first six games. Korean pitchers have walked 17 batters. However Japan has surrendered seven home runs and Korea has given up only five.
The rational part of me tells me that the winner of this game will be decided by whoever has the most talent. But the extremely talented teams of the USA, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico are all gone. Right now, rationality has little to do with predicting who will win. Just pick a team to root for and sit back and hope for the best.
FINAL SCORE Japan 6, Korea 0
WP -- Koji Uehara
LP -- Byung Doo Jun
HRs -- Kosuke Fukudome (his 2nd), Hitoshi Tamura (his 3rd)
Uehara throws seven innings of shutout ball as Japan finally beats Korea in the touranment. And at the most opportune time. Japan will face Cuba in the championship game Monday night at 6 pm PT.
A 2-run pinch homer by Kosuke Fukudome in the seventh off of Byung-Hyun Kim highlighted a five-run inning.
Korea finishes the tournament with a 6-1 record and made no errors. Japan is 4-3 and will take on 5-2 Cuba.