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ROK waits on deck for medal
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The Republic of Korea booked a place in the gold medal game and maintained their unbeaten run with a 6-2 win against Japan at Wukesong Baseball Field on Friday.

The Republic of Korea recovered from a shaky start and in the bottom of the eighth they scored four runs with two RBI doubles and a two-run homer by Lee Seung-yuop against Japan's relief pitchers.

Two errors by Japan's Sato Takahiko cost his team while the Republic of Korea manager Kim Kyung-moon again proved his strategic capabilities late in the game.

Starting pitcher Kim Kwang-hyun made a nervous start but found his form to take five strikeouts.

Japan opened strongly as Nishioka Tsuyoshi singled and advanced to second on a fielder's interference. Nishioka eventually scored on a fielder's choice and RBI by Arai Takahiro as Japan took a 1-0 lead after one inning.

The game's second sacrifice bunt by Araki Masahiro advanced him to second before a wild pitch allowed him to take third base. Aoki Norichika then scored Nishioka with an RBI single to left field and Japan went ahead 2-0.

The Republic of Korea found their rhythm in the fourth as Lee Yong-kyu led off with a single into left field, advancing to second base on leftfielder Sato's first error. Lee Yong-kyu then scored on a fielder's choice as the Republic of Korea closed the gap 2-1.

The Republic of Korea's third hit of the third inning, a single by Kim Dong-joo, ended Sugiuchi Toshiya's pitching stint as the first of Japan's five relievers took to the mound.

Strategic moves by manager Kim Kyung-moon paid off in the seventh as pinch hitter Lee Jin-young scored pinch runner Jeong Keun-woo with a single to level the score at 2-2.

The Republic of Korea stormed into the lead in the eighth as latent star Lee Seung-yuop finally found his tournament form, belting a two-run homer over the right field fence to take the Republic of Korea ahead 4-2. Kim Dong-joo then singled before Ko Young-min doubled to centre field scoring Kim on a second error by Sato.

An RBI double by Kang Min-ho put the Republic of Koreans ahead 6-2 and reliever Yoon Suk-min claimed two fly outs and a strikeout to seal The Republic of Korea's victory.

The gold medal game at 6:00 p.m. (UTC/GMT +8) on Saturday, August 23 sees the Republic of Korea play the winner of the game between Cuba and the United States at 6:00 p.m. on August 22. Japan will play the loser of that game for the bronze medal at 10:30 a.m. also on August 22.

(Xinhua News Agnecy August 22, 2008)

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