Baseball: Australia stuns giant South Korea in WBC Pool B opener

Australia's batters belted three home runs and its bullpen barely held on for an 8-7 upset win over South Korea in the World Baseball Classic's Pool B opener Thursday.

A favorite to be one of two teams advancing to the quarterfinal knockout round here at Tokyo Dome next Wednesday and Thursday, South Korea's players had been talking about Australia's power since arriving in Japan and had those concerns confirmed.

South Korea overturned an early two-run deficit on Yang Eui Ji's three-run fifth-inning homer, and made it 4-2 in the sixth on Park Byung Ho's RBI double.

Three-run homers by Robbie Glendinning and Robbie Perkins gave the Australian bullpen a four-run cushion that shrank to a run in a perilous three-run eighth inning.

The Australians walked five batters and hit one in the inning, and only survived with the lead when Na Sung Bum missed a three-run double by a few inches before striking out to end the inning.

"It was a very tough game, a very strange game," said Australia manager David Nilsson, whose disagreements with the umpires about the number of visits his staff made to the mound prolonged the eighth inning.

South Korea wasted a scoring opportunity when Kang Baek Ho took his foot off the bag to celebrate a seventh-inning pinch-hit double and was tagged out by Glendinning at second.

"He celebrated a little too early, but I want him to forget about it," South Korea manager Lee Kang Chul said.

© Kyodo News