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South Koreans Capture Bronze

September 27, 2000|Times Wire Services

South Korea's version of Mark McGwire led his country to the baseball bronze medal.

Lee Seung-yuop doubled home two runs with two outs in the eighth inning today at Sydney, sending the Koreans to a 3-1 victory over Japan and their first medal in Olympic baseball.

Lee, a 6-foot, 187-pound first baseman, set South Korea's single-season home run record last year by hitting 54. His double against tough-luck pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka became the biggest hit in his country's meager Olympic history.

South Korea failed to qualify for the tournament in Barcelona and finished last in the eight-team field in Atlanta. The Koreans shut down their major leagues so they could field a better team in Sydney.

It worked. They not only won their first medal, they also beat rival Japan twice--once in the preliminaries, then again with the bronze on the line.

Japan went home without a medal for the first time. It won the bronze in Barcelona--the first official medal baseball tournament--and lost to Cuba in the gold-medal game in Atlanta.

The Koreans had to play the consolation game a few hours after losing to the United States, 3-2, in the semifinals. That game ended after midnight local time on Doug Mientkiewicz's ninth-inning homer.

Twelve hours later, the Koreans were back on the field, locked in a game dominated by the starters.

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