Chihiro Sumida threw seven scoreless innings and Chusei Mannami hit a solo home run as Japan edged South Korea 2-1 Friday to secure a place in the final of the Asia Professional Baseball Championship.
Three-time World Baseball Classic champion Japan picked up its second win in as many games in the round-robin stage of the four-team tournament at Tokyo Dome, while South Korea fell to a 1-1 record.
Sumida struck out seven and allowed just three hits, all singles, while walking none and hitting a batter.
Yuki Okabayashi scored the game's first run when Shugo Maki grounded into a double play in the third inning.
An inning later, Mannami homered off Lee Eui Lee, who worked six innings. South Korea barely avoided a shutout when Kim Whee Jip homered with two outs in the ninth.
"I knew it was going to be a close game," Japan's new manager Hirokazu Ibata said. "We could have scored more runs. That's something we have to reflect on."
"Our pitchers did really well. He (Sumida) attacked hitters in the strike zone."
Earlier Friday, Taiwan defeated Australia 6-0 in 10 innings for its first win in two games. Australia dropped to 0-2.
The winner of Saturday's night game between South Korea and Taiwan will face Japan in Sunday's final.