TAIWAN – The Samsung Lions of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) became the first non-Japanese team to win the Asia Series when they defeated the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Jang Won-Sam (2.19 ERA) started for Samsung and pitched well earning his second victory and securing the MVP award. Jang gave up 1 run on 5 hits over 6.1 innings. Oh Seung-Hwan (47 saves and a 0.63 ERA in the KBO) came in to pitch the final two innings to finish off the game.
Fukuoka got on the board first in the 1st inning with an RBI double by third baseman Matsuda Nobuhiro. The score would stay 1-0 until the 5th when Samsung would explode for all of their 5 runs.
Hawks starter Iwasaki Sho got a little shaky giving up 3 hits and 2 walks. After giving up 3 runs Sho was pulled for Yang Yao-Hsun.
The Hawks had their chance in the 8th inning to rally, and rally they did. Facing the Lions relief staff, the Hawks loaded the bases with no outs. The Lions manager then called on the “KBO Relief King” in Oh who promptly gave up a single to load the bases still with nobody out.
Next up for Fukuoka was Matsuda, who already had an RBI double. Oh got him to ground into a double play but a run scored making it 5-2. Hawks outfielder Hasegawa Yuya then got an RBI single to make the score 5-3, but that is all Fukuoka would manage as Oh shut them down in the 8th and the 9th to close out the game.
The victory was a little bit of revenge for Samsung who in round robin play was beaten by SoftBank 9-0.
The Asia Series will return in 2012. This time it will take place in South Korea and the format will be expanded. In addition to the 4 current winners of the KBO (Korea), CPBL (Taiwan), NPB (Japan), and the ABL (Australia), the winner of China’s CBL League and the other finalist from the KBO championship will also receive invites.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.