S. Korea to start right-hander Won Tae-in vs. Israel to open baseball gold defense

TOKYO-- South Korea will open its Olympic baseball title defense with a 21-year-old international rookie on the mound Thursday.

Won Tae-in, right-hander for the Samsung Lions in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), will take the mound against Israel in South Korea's opening Group B game at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Yokohama, south of Tokyo. The first pitch is at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Won has gone 10-4 with a 2.54 ERA in 15 starts for the Lions so far in 2021. He has 76 strikeouts and 32 walks in 92 innings. He is the KBO leader in wins and is fifth in ERA.

"Even though he is a young pitcher, Won Tae-in is mature beyond his years on the mound," South Korean manager Kim Kyung-moon said at the pregame press conference at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. "This will be a pressure-packed game, for sure, but we felt he could get the job done."

Won is one of seven South Korean pitchers making their senior international debut.

Won had a 10-18 combined record with a 4.86 ERA over his first two seasons but blossomed into a bona fide ace this year. He was named KBO's Player of the Month for April after posting a 1.16 ERA and a 4-1 record in five starts.

Israel manager Eric Holtz said his team will send former major league right-hander Jon Moscot to the hill against South Korea.

Moscot, 29, appeared in eight games for the Cincinnati Reds in 2015 and 2016, compiling a 1-4 record and a 6.82 ERA. Moscot had Tommy John elbow surgery in 2016 and then announced his retirement in March 2019 to begin working as pitching coach for the Reds' minor league affiliates. He came out of retirement to first pitch for Israel in September 2019.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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