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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SPORT BY SPORT
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South Korea Victory Eliminates Aussies

September 24, 2000|Associated Press

South Korea clinched the fourth and final medal-round berth by beating South Africa, 13-3, in a baseball game shortened by the mercy rule.

South Korea (4-3) joins Cuba, the United States and Japan in the semifinals. Matchups for medal play, which begins Tuesday, would be determined by later games.

South Korea has played each of the semifinalists tough, losing to Cuba on an eighth-inning homer, beating Japan in extra innings and losing to the United States on Doug Mientkiewicz's eighth-inning grand slam.

After two disappointing Olympic baseball tournaments, South Korea decided to shut down its major leagues and send a more competitive team to Sydney. It worked.

South Korea failed to qualify for the 1992 tournament in Barcelona and finished last with a 1-6 record in Atlanta. A team filled with Korean major leaguers won its last three games against the Netherlands, Japan and South Africa (1-6) to reach the medal round.

Catcher Hong Sung-Heon, who was South Korea's rookie of the year last year, went three for four drove in three runs to lead an offense that piled up 14 hits. The 10-run mercy rule went into effect when South Korea scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth.

The South Koreans sent 11 batters to the plate for six runs in the fourth, effectively finishing off the South Africans. The rally consisted of five singles, two walks and a wild pitch. South Africa managed only three hits, including Nick Dempsey's two-run home run.

Italy 7, Australia 6--Australia's medal chances suffered a huge setback when Italy's Christopher Madonna hit a tying two-run home run in the ninth, and Luigi Carrozza added a two-run shot in the 13th for a victory at Blacktown.

Instead of being tied with South Korea (3-3) for the final medal-round berth heading into the final day of round-robin play, Australia slipped into a tie with Italy and the Netherlands at 2-4 and was eliminated by South Korea's victory over South Africa.

Netherlands 3, Italy 2--Hensley Meulens hit a two-run homer the Netherlands finished with a victory in a matchup of two teams that had already been eliminated from medal competition.

Meulens hit a two-out homer in the first and the Netherlands (3-4) added a run in the fourth with the help of an error.

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