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S. Korea earns spot in final

by Jason Coskrey

LOS ANGELES — Kim Tae Kyun and his South Korean teammates didn’t have much time to be intimidated by all the major league talent in the Venezuelan dugout.

They were too busy blowing them out.

Kim Tae Kyun hit his third homer of the tournament and South Korea roughed up pitcher Carlos Silva in a 10-2 rout in the semifinals of the World Baseball Classic in front of 43,378 fans on Saturday in Los Angeles.

“We won today,” South Korea manager Kim In Sik said.

“We did not expect a win, but the error by the other team played a critical part in our victory,” he added, referring to a first-inning miscue by right fielder Bobby Abreu.

The win sends South Korea into the WBC final on Monday against the winner of the Japan-United States semifinal, which will be played Sunday.

Already one of the WBC’s breakout stars, Kim Tae Kyun finished 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBIs in the victory. The first baseman is batting .385, has a WBC-leading 11 RBIs and is tied for the tournament lead with three home runs.

“Lee Seung Yeop was the big hitter in the past WBC,” Kim Tae Kyun said. “He was the home run king and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.”

Yomiuri Giants slugger Lee Seung Yeop, who is not playing in the tournament, led the 2006 WBC with five home runs.

Venezuela opened the WBC with 18 major leaguers, and nine MLB All-Stars, on its roster while the the Koreans had just one big leaguer.

Luis Sojo thinks there might be a few more the next time around.

“There will be from now on, trust me,” the Venezuelan manager responded when asked why there weren’t more Koreans in the majors. “What you saw tonight was something very special.”

Choo Shin Soo, South Korea’s lone major leaguer, helped break the game open with a three-run homer in the first and outfielder Lee Dae Ho had a two-RBI night.

The South Koreans had seven runs before recording their second out of the second inning and chased starter Silva after 1 1/3 innings. Silva gave up seven runs, six earned, on six hits.

The Venezuelans didn’t do themselves any favors in the field, committing five errors in the loss. The first, a misplay in the outfield by Abreu in the first, put a runner in scoring position at second, took away a sure out, and set the stage for the blowout.

“I closed my glove too early,” Abreu said. “When I saw I didn’t have the ball, I grabbed it and tried not to overthrow. I saw (Marco) Scutaro on second and I saw the runner and I thought he wouldn’t make it. My throw was short . . . (and) that was an important out that we didn’t get.”

Pitcher Yoon Suk Min earned the win, allowing two runs on seven hits and striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.

“I played in the Beijing Olympics and also the WBC,” Yoon said. “I felt great and I was proud and confident as the starting pitcher. Rather than be nervous, I had confidence. Even though they were major league hitters, I didn’t know who they were, so I was not nervous.”

Yoon gave up a homer late in his outing, but was in control for most of the game.

“I think one of his best pitches is his changeup,” Abreu said. “He had good control and I really think he is an excellent pitcher and he really dominated the game.”

Kim Hyun Soo ignited the offense with an RBI single in the first and Jeong Keun Woo scored on a Lee Dae Ho groundout to double the lead later in the inning.

Choo followed with his three-run shot to make the score 5-0.

Kim Hyun Soo hit a one-out double in the second and scored on Kim Tae Kyun’s two-run homer to put South Korea ahead by seven runs.

Melvin Mora put Venezuela on the scoreboard with an RBI single in the bottom of the third, but an error by Miguel Cabrera allowed South Korea to add a run in the next inning.

Lee Dae Ho drove in another run with a single in the sixth and Choi Jeong added a sacrifice fly later to make the score 10-1.

Venezuela trimmed the lead to eight on a Carlos Guillen home run in the seventh which ended the scoring.