By Yoo Jee-ho
TOKYO, March 13 (Yonhap) -- Already eliminated in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), South Korea got a consolation prize with a 22-2 win over China in its final game in Tokyo on Monday.
South Korea clobbered China with 20 hits at Tokyo Dome, including grand slams by San Diego Padres infielder Kim Ha-seong and NC Dinos outfielder Park Kun-woo, and set a record for the most runs scored and the largest margin of victory in a WBC game. South Korea finished third among five countries in Pool B with a 2-2 record.
The game ended after five innings on a mercy rule, as South Korea held a lead larger than 15 runs through five innings.
South Korea's fate was sealed before this game, when Australia defeated the Czech Republic 8-3 in the matinee to grab second seed in Pool B and join Japan (4-0) in the quarterfinals.
In order to squeeze into the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker, South Korea needed the Czech Republic to beat Australia while allowing at least four runs in a nine-inning game.
The Czechs rallied late but came up short, and South Korea was left playing a largely meaningless game in the nightcap.
Manager Lee Kang-chul inserted backups into the starting lineup. Five players -- first baseman Park Hae-min, second baseman Kim Hye-seong, shortstop Oh Ji-hwan, catcher Lee Ji-young and left fielder Choi Ji-hoon -- made their first WBC starts.
The teams traded two runs apiece in the first inning. South Korea opened the salvo with RBI hits by Lee Jung-hoo and Kang Baek-ho. Cao Jie responded for China with a two-out, two-run single.
South Korea regained its two-run lead in the top of the second, thanks to Kim Hye-seong's sacrifice fly and a wild pitch by Chinese reliever Zheng Chaoqun.
South Korea put the game out of China's reach with an eight-spot in the third inning.
With the bases loaded in the third, Zheng's balk and Lee Ji-young's single put South Korea ahead 6-2.
Facing the new pitcher, Wang Xiang, Choi Ji-hoon put down a well-placed bunt to cash in another run.
A bunt single loaded the bases for Kim Hye-seong, who drew a walk for an 8-2 lead. Lee Jung-hoo's ringing double to right-center field extended the lead to 10-2.
Wang intentionally walked Kim Ha-seong and chose to face Kang Baek-ho instead. Kang bounced into a double play, but a run still came across to put South Korea up 11-2.
Park Kun-woo's single brought in South Korea's 12th run.
South Korea loaded the bases with no out in the fourth, and Kim Hye-seong's comebacker to the mound brought home one run. A bases-loaded walk to Park Byung-ho made it a 14-2 game.
Park Kun-woo's grand slam gave South Korea an 18-2 lead. Kim Ha-seong joined the party with a grand slam of his own in the top fifth, landing a knockout punch for a 22-2 advantage.
Starter Won Tae-in allowed two runs on three hits in one inning of work, and So Hyeong-jun followed up with three perfect innings. Koo Chang-mo took care of the final three outs.