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Koreans join Japan to advance at WBC

OLYMPIC champion South Korea roughed up China 14-0 yesterday to join title holder Japan in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

The Koreans rebounded from a demoralizing 2-14 drubbing by Japan to secure one of the top two spots in Pool A with an easy win in a game ended by the mercy rule after seven innings.

The victory also gives last year's Beijing Olympic gold medalist a shot at instant revenge over fierce rival Japan in today's final group game at Tokyo Dome.

Missing several key players from its triumphant 2008 Olympic team, South Korea produced a performance more reminiscent of its 9-0 thrashing of Chinese Taipei in its opening game.

The Koreans broke the game open in the fourth innings when third baseman Lee Bum-ho belted a towering two-run homer into the left field seats to give his side a 4-0 lead.

Fielding errors

They added five more runs in the fifth, two from fielding errors and one from a walk, and another five in the next to put the Chinese out of their misery.

South Korea's embarrassingly large defeat by Japan on Saturday had also been called after seven innings but the gulf in class between it and China was cavernous.

The result of today's clash between Asia's top two teams decides the Pool A winner, which would be likely to avoid playing Group B favorite Cuba first in the second round in San Diego.

On Saturday, the US flexed its muscles and slammed three home runs to edge Canada 6-5 in its opener.

While the US avoided the upset, another of the favorite could not - the Dominican Republic was upset 2-3 by the Netherlands in a Pool D clash in Puerto Rico.

The baseball minnows jumped out to a 3-0 first-inning lead against the Dominican's line-up of major leaguers, then held on to claim a famous victory.

The Americans will next play Venezuela (a 7-0 winner over Italy).

In other action, Ivan Rodriguez hit a pair of home runs as Puerto Rico pounded Panama 7-0.


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