Australia stun South Korea in World Baseball Classic
Rob Glendinning and Robbie Perkins have both blasted three-run homers to lead Australia to a stunning 8-7 victory over world No.4 South Korea in their World Baseball Classic opener in Japan.
Glendinning stepped up with with two teammates on base and South Korea leading by two runs in the top of the seventh innings at the Tokyo Dome on Thursday.
He ripped a 410-foot homer to deep left field off relieving pitcher Won-Jung Kim to give the underdogs a 5-4 lead.
They extended the lead to 8-4 an inning later when Canberra native Robbie Perkins delivered his monster three-run homer, backing the team's confidence in their power-hitting.
South Korea rallied to get within one run at the bottom of the eighth but could get no closer.
It was Australia's third-ever win at the World Baseball Classic in their fifth trip to the biggest international tournament.
"I am very proud of the team, the resilience they showed," said coach Dave Nilsson.
"Very tough game. Very strange game. Had to stand out on defence for a long time that inning and had to endure a lot, had to overcome a lot of emotions."
Nilsson wanted time to refect before answering where the win ranked in Australian baseball history.
"There's been a lot of good players come before us and we've had a lot of good victories before in other areas. We've won a silver medal in Olympics. We've won a gold medal in the World Cup previously," he said.
"What I can tell you is right now that feels pretty significant. That feels like a pretty big moment, definitely."
Logan Wade scored Darryl George on a sacrifice fly in the fourth inning to put Australia up early.
Tim Kennelly added to Australia's tally with a solo shot in the fifth to put them up 2-0.
But South Korea's batters woke up in the fifth and sixth innings.
To that point, South Australian Jack O'Loughlin had pitched a perfect first two innings and Western Australia's Mitch Neunborn followed him by retiring the first seven batters he faced.
It took 14 plate appearances before Korea finally got a runner on base via a walk in the fifth.
Then they piled it on and Euiji Yang blasted a ball over the left field fence off reliever Dan McGrath to put them up 3-2 before ByungHo Park drilled a ball off the top of the left field wall for another run.
South Korea started the game with star pitcher Ko Young-Pyo who went 4.1 innings, allowing four hits, two runs and hit two batters.
After that, Korea used seven different relievers to finish the game.
Australia, ranked 10th in the world, emptied the bullpen, too, using nine pitchers.
They were early leaders in Pool B with two of the five teams to advance out of round-robin play into the quarter-finals next week.
Australia next face China on Saturday, when they are expected to win and put themselves in solid position to go through. They also face hosts Japan and the Czech Republic in their pool.