Tears and hugs as Hong Kong’s fairy-tale run in baseball’s Asian Cup ends with 9-4 loss to South Korea
Emotions run high after hosts give up five runs at the top of the first and never recover against world number eight
Emotions got the better of the Hong Kong women’s baseball team as they walked off the field full of tears following a 9-4 loss to South Korea at Sai Tso Wan on Wednesday.
The result signalled the end of the team’s campaign in the inaugural BFA Women’s Baseball Asian Cup, which comes to a close on Thursday evening.
It also dashed any glimmer of hope that the home team could leapfrog world number eight Korea in the rankings.
Hong Kong – ranked 10th – will look back and kick themselves for carelessly gifting their opponents five runs at the top of the first inning.
“We struggled to command the strike zone early and that was pretty much the death of us,” said coach Anthony Bennett, who also coaches the Australia women’s team. “It took the wind out of our sails, so we tried to retaliate as opposed to getting our flow back.”
With Sandra Hung Yik-san’s reliable pitching and a collective Hong Kong defence coming to life shortly after, the game could have taken a totally different turn had it not been for the calamitous start and losing by exactly five runs only made the loss more excruciating.
“It was an uphill battle from the very beginning. If we didn’t have to claw our way back from the start, it would have been a different dynamic,” says Bennett.
Much of the team were brought to tears after Korean infielder Gim Hyung-yung caught Yeung Kit-ling’s final hit to end the seventh and final inning.
Bennett and head coach Jose Au Wing-leung do not want to dwell on the loss too much, however.
“We can be upset – we’ve all been there before – but we must learn to move on,” Au told his team as they sat before him, consoling each other.
“They put in a lot of hard work leading up to this tournament,” reveals Bennett. “And the harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. But you either win or you learn.”
Unfortunately, Hong Kong had to learn on Wednesday afternoon, but good things come to those who wait.
“They are a young team, especially off the mound. The pitchers have to really embrace the idea of pitching to contact, because they have a pretty solid defence,” Bennett said.
“We competed against [Hong Kong] in the World Cup with Australia, and now that I see how dedicated they are – even though none of them are professionals – I think good things will happen on the road to the next World Cup.”
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As for Bennett, who was brought in specifically for this tournament, the Hong Kong adventure looks as though it will continue.
“There’s talk of me sticking around to help out the men’s team in the Asian championships in Taipei next month, so we’ll see,” he said.