Indeed, righty-hitting Keun-Woo Jeong is in as a pinch hitter for the lefty-swinging Jin Young Lee, so Tatsunori Hara's gambit must have worked.
Jeong gets ahead 2-1, then takes a 95 mph fastball down the middle from Yu Darvish and strikes out on a wicked slider breaking down and away.
Two outs left for Korea.
Darvish walks Hyun-Soo Kim on four pitches, bringing up Tae Kyun Kim with a chance to win it with one swing.
That brings the pitching coach to the mound. In-Sik Kim sends Jong Wook Lee in to pinch-run for Hyun-Soo Kim.
How great is it that this tournament comes down to Darvish vs. Tae Kyun Kim?
Darvish overthrows a slider, which is in the dirt for ball one, then misses with another.
My heart is racing.
A third slider is also outside, 3-0.
A 96 mph fastball that looked low is called strike one.
Lee takes off from first and the pitch is low for ball four to Kim. Now the tying run is in scoring position with one out for the Indians' Shin-Soo Choo who homered earlier in the game.
Korea sends in a pinch-runner for Tae Kyun Kim, Taek-Keun Lee. He represents the tournament-winning run.
Darvish gets a low called strike on the first pitch to Choo.
Choo then swings through a 93 mph fastball inside and low, 0-2.
A 95 mph fastball up is fouled back. Catcher Kenji Johjima stood up to place his target on that pitch.
A sharp curve (or perhaps it was a changeup) down in the zone strikes out Choo swinging.
One out left for Korea. Bum Ho Lee to the plate.
Slider low, ball one.
Fastball inside and low is called a strike. That looked like an awful call to me.
Lee singles past third base and ties the game!
So it all comes down to this. Japan holds a slim one-run lead and will have to get through the heart of the Korean order to repeat as WBC champions. Jin Young Lee, Hyun-Soo Kim, and tournament hitting star Tae Kyun Kim are the scheduled batters. There's no margin of error for Japan.
Lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi warmed up for the inning, perhaps to draw a pinch-hitter, but Tatsunori Hara calls on righty ace Yu Darvish before the inning begins.
This has been one heck of a game, and this is going to be a tremendously intense inning.
Top of the Japanese order is coming up against new Korean pitcher Chang Yong Lim, a side-arming right-hander who pitches for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows of the Japanese Central League. Min-ho Kang is the new catcher for Korea, replacing Kyung Oan Park/Dae Ho Lee.
Ichiro Suzuki leads off with a drive to right that looks like a home run, but hits off the wall for a double. Hiroyuki Nakajima shows bunt, but twice bunts foul. He then shoots a line drive toward right field, but second baseman Young Min Ko makes a great diving catch to rob Nakajima of a hit and keep Ichiro at second. That's a huge out.
Lim stays away from lefty Norichiki Aoki, then makes the unintentional walk intentional with the last two balls, setting up the force, the double-play, and bringing up right-hander Kenji Johjima, who is 0-for-3 with a walk.
The first pitch to Johjima is a frizbee slider outside. The next is just inside for ball two. The 2-0 pitch is taken down the middle for ball one. A fastball inthe same location is popped to shallow center, holding the runners. Two outs.
Lefty Michihiro Ogasawara is Japan's last chance to get that insurance run back. The first pitch is a 94 mph fastball for a strike. Lim then throws another way high and outside that nearly gets past Kang. A changeup outside makes it 2-1. Ogasawara then fouls off a 95 mph fastball in the zone to run the count even and strikes out on a changeup just off the outside corner.
Three outs left for Korea, but they only need one run to tie . . .
Hisashi Iwakuma's final line: 7 2/3 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K.
New pitcher Toshiya Sugiuchi is in to face lefty-swinging leadoff man Yong Kyu-Lee with a man on first and two out. Sugiuchi pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in last night's game against the USA and hasn't allowed a hit in his six innings in this tournament.
Sugiuchi falls behind Lee 3-1. Lee then serves an opposite-field fly to left for the final out.
They didn't get it tied, but that was a huge inning for Korea. They'll now have Tae Kyun Lee coming to the plate with the opportunity to tie it with one swing in the ninth, provided they can hold Japan in the top of the inning.
Hisashi Iwakuma remains in the game to pitch to ninth-place hitter Ki Hyuk Park with two outs and the bases empty. This should be his last batter no matter the result because of how he's pitching, where he is in the lineup, and the pitch-count limit.
Iwakuma falls behind 3-0, then battles back to 3-2 only to walk Park. That brings Tatsunori Hara out of the dugout and lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi into the game.