July 23, 1998
PALERMO, Sicily – Strong opposing pitching and a costly defensive mistake again proved to be the difference, as the USA dropped a 3-1 game to Korea Thursday night in the second day of the World Championship.
The USA (26-11 overall) now faces a battle in its quest to advance to the quarterfinals from the eight-team group B. The top four teams from both group A and B will advance from the seven-game round-robin format, with the USA next set to face Taiwan on Friday in Messina, Sicily. Texas A&M sophomore lefthander Casey Fossum (3-1, 4.54 ERA, 39.2 IP, 53 Ks, 47 H, 11 BB) is scheduled to start Friday for the USA.
Notre Dame sophomore third baseman Brant Ust (Redmond, Wash.) went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts while again making a costly error that led to two unearned runs. Ust, who made just four errors in the USAs first 35 games, also made a run-producing error in Wednesdays 3-1 opening loss to the Netherlands (a later USA error led to another unearned run in that game).
The USA had experienced major success in close games prior to the World Championship, going 9-4 in games decided by 1-2 runs prior to this weeks losses (including a 6-1 mark in close games at the World Championship Qualifier).
Korea righthander Hun-Ho Kyung and Byung-Hyun Kim dominated the USA hitters, combining for 14 strikeouts while allowing just six hits. Kyung notched 11 Ks and allowed just one walk over the first six innings while Kim closed the game with three Ks and three no-hit innings.
University of Houston sophomore lefthander Shane Nance (5-1) suffered the hard-luck loss, allowing one earned run (three total) in his eight-inning performance. Nance, who lowered his impressive summer ERA to 1.47, racked up 12 strikeouts while allowing just five hits and four walks.
Korea (2-0) posted two unearned runs in the second inning, without even managing a hit. Catcher Sung-Heon Hung drew a leadoff walk and moved to third when Ust threw wildly to first base after cleanly fielding a grounder by Korean third baseman Bong-Kyu Kang, who scampered to second on the play. Shortstop Woo-Gu Hwangs groundout to first base plated Hong and moved Kang to third before designated hitter Yonn-Min Kweon capped the scoring with a sacrifice fly to right field.
Kang led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo home run to left-center field, giving Korea a 3-0 lead. The USA battled back with one run in the seventh, behind a leadoff double by LSU sophomore DH Brad Cresse, a single by Texas Tech sophomore catcher Josh Bard and a sacrifice fly by UNLV sophomore rightfielder Ryan Ludwick.
The USA managed just one run while stranding five runners on base (Korea left six runners on base). The USAs #1-#3 batters combined to go just 1-for-11: Miami sophomore shortstop Bobby Hill (0-for-3), Stanford sophomore leftfielder John Gall (1-for-4) and USC sophomore first baseman Eric Munson (0-for-4).