The LG Twins swept the KT Wiz in the best-of-seven series. In the final inning, there was a bench-clearing incident after a hard-hit ball in the middle of a big inning.
The LG Twins won their 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League away game against the KT Wiz 11-4 on Sunday at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, South Korea.
With the win, LG overcame the shock of a late-game loss the previous day (June 6) to sweep a three-game midweek series with KT. LG has a record of 69 wins, 44 losses, and two ties. The head-to-head record between the two teams this season is 7-6 in favor of LG. LG will now travel to Gwangju for a four-game series with KIA, including a doubleheader on the 9th, while KT will host SSG for a three-game series without traveling from Anbang. After dropping the game, KT remained in second place with 64 wins, 52 losses and two draws. At the same time, the gap with ‘leader’ LG increased from 5.5 games to 6.5 games.
It was a hot three-game series. The matchup between the LG Twins and KT Wiz has attracted the attention of many baseball fans as a preview of the Korean Series, with the ‘first place’ and ‘second place’ teams facing off. And as expected from two teams at the top of the standings, there were fierce battles throughout the three-game series. In the fifth game, LG won 5-4 in a game that took 104 minutes (1 hour and 44 minutes), the longest game of the season, to resume after a rain delay. However, in the previous game, KT scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning off LG closer Go Woo-seok, trailing 0-3, to secure a 4-3, come-from-behind victory. In the end, it was LG who emerged victorious in the sweepstakes series.
KT Wiz lined up in the following order: Kim Min-hyuk (left fielder), Cho Yong-ho (right fielder), Hwang Jae-gyun (third baseman), Park Byung-ho (designated hitter), Bae Jeong-dae (center fielder), Jang Sung-woo (catcher), Lee Ho-yeon (first baseman), Park Kyung-soo (second baseman), and Kim Sang-soo (shortstop). With Alford out of the starting lineup from the previous day, Kim Sang-soo got the start, and veteran Park Kyung-soo got a chance at second base. The starting pitcher was Ko Young-pyo. Ahead of the game, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol talked about the most important moments from the previous day, saying, “It’s hard to single out one person, but I think the hitting of the batting order was still the biggest. Moon Sang-rae did a good job earlier, but even in a situation where the game could have been over, he kept our chances alive. With that hit, I thought the game might be over,” he explained. Lee also spoke about Kim Sang-soo, saying, “He has expressed his intention to play. He said he feels fine. I think he can play defense as early as the weekend or next week.”
In response, the LG Twins organized their starting batting order as Hong Chang-ki (right fielder), Shin Min-jae (second baseman), Kim Hyun-soo (designated hitter), Austin (first baseman), Moon Bo-kyung (third baseman), Oh Ji-hwan (shortstop), Park Dong-won (catcher), Moon Sung-joo (left fielder), and Park Hae-min (center fielder). Kim Min-sung, who started the previous day, was scratched, and Moon Sung-joo came into the starting lineup. The starting pitcher was Lee Jung-yong. Before the game, LG manager Yoon Kyung-yeop said, “Kim Hyun-soo and Oh Ji-hwan led by example and took care of the juniors. I was worried about Go Woo-seok and Moon Bo-kyung, but Kim Hyun-soo and Oh Ji-hwan made the first move. As a coach, I’m really grateful. They handled the situation well,” he said. Regarding Moon Bo-kyung, he emphasized, “If you take her out of the starting lineup after a game like that, she won’t be able to improve,” and added, “Go Woo-seok came to the manager’s office and apologized. (Laughs) Now, we will use the previous day’s game as an opportunity to do better in the remaining 30 games,” he said.
]◆ 1st-3rd innings: Jang Gun-mungun gives KT a one-run lead
Prior to this game, Ko had started 23 games this season, going 10-6 with a 2.74 ERA. Against LG, however, he was winless in three games with a 1-0 record and a 6.57 ERA. The first inning started well with a triple play. Hong Chang-ki flied out to center, Shin Min-jae grounded out to second, and Kim Hyun-soo fouled out to third. LG starter Lee Jung-yong worked a scoreless first inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Kim Min-hyuk in right-center field, but got Cho Myung-ho to fly out to right field and then struck out Hwang Jae-gyun and Park Byung-ho in succession.
The first run came in the second inning. In the top of the second, Ko Young-pyo gave up a single to left to Moon Bo-kyung, but he got Oh Ji-hwan to ground out to shortstop and then prevented Oh from stealing second when Park Dong-won came to bat. After surviving the crisis, KT took the lead in the bottom of the second inning. Leadoff hitter Choi Jae-dae led off with a double down the left field line and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Jang Jang-woo. Lee Ho-yeon followed with a straight groundout. Park Kyung-soo followed up the initial strike with a second-pitch squeeze bunt to bring home Choi Jae-dae from third. Two batters later, Kim Min-hyuk followed with an RBI single to left-center (2-0).
LG answered right back in the top of the third to tie the game at one. One out later, Moon Sung-ju doubled and moved to third on Park Hae-min’s infield single. With Park stealing second on the next at-bat, Hong Chang-ki finally hit a two-run double that landed just inside the right field line. The game was tied at 2-2. However, Shin Min-jae and Kim Hyun-soo were retired on back-to-back strikeouts to end the inning. KT then scored another run in the bottom of the third. After a leadoff single to left-center by Hwang Jae-gyun, Jang Sung-woo followed with a double to right-center.(3-2) The next batter, Lee Ho-yeon, flied out to right field. End of inning.
4th-6th: LG’s bats shake up Ko Young-pyo, Oh Ji-hwan blasts a wedge two-run shot
Top of the 4th inning. LG turned the game around. One out later, Moon Bo-kyung led off with a single to left and stole second. Park Dong-won followed with a single to right-center field, and Oh Ji-hwan stole third.(3-3) The next batter, Park Dong-won, followed with a single to left-center field. With runners on first and third, Moon Sung-joo grounded out to first, allowing Oh to score from third and tie the game.(3-4) Moon stole second, but Park Hae-min grounded out to second to end the inning.
As the team’s bats came alive, Lee Jung-yong began to push harder. In the bottom of the fourth inning, he got Park to ground out to third and gave up a single to Kim Sang-soo, but got Kim Min-hyuk to ground out to short and Choi Seok-ho to fly out to right. With the LG bats retired in order in the top of the fifth, Lee Jung-yong worked out of a jam in the bottom of the inning. He gave up a walk to leadoff hitter Hwang Jae-gyun and a single to Park Byung-ho, putting runners on first and second with no outs. Instead of taking Park Byung-ho out of the game, Lee brought in Alford, a foreigner, as a pinch hitter to put pressure on LG. The next batter was Bae Jae-dae. While posing for a hit, he lowered his bat straight at Lee’s first pitch and attempted to bunt, but the bunt was a bit short and Park Dong-won caught it and threw to third to end the inning. With runners on first and second, Lee induced Jang Jang-woo to fly out to shortstop on four pitches to end the fifth inning with no outs.
LG finally got out of the jam and took the lead in the top of the sixth inning. KT’s pitcher was still Ko Young-pyo. After Moon Bo-kyung led off with a single to right, Oh Ji-hwan stepped up to the plate. On a 1-1 count, Oh took a three-pitch fastball (132 kilometers) and smashed a two-run shot over the right field fence. The score was 6-3. It was Oh’s fifth home run of the season. Two batters later, Moon Sung-ju led off with an infield single and stole second base. Park Hae-min followed with a walk. However, Hong Chang-ki was thrown out on a pitcher’s interference. In the bottom of the sixth inning, KT’s leadoff hitter Lee Ho-yeon led off with a single to right and was replaced by Park Kyung-soo. KT fans gathered on the first base side of Wiz Park let out a roar. However, Kang Baek-ho flied out to the catcher on the third pitch. Kim Sang-soo followed with a single in front of the second baseman. It was the first time Lee had pitched a quality start (six innings or less with three earned runs).
Park Dong-won’s wedge… ‘Bench-clearing outbreak’ after four-run big inning in the ninth
The game was heading into the second half. Instead of pulling starter Ko Young-pyo in the top of the seventh inning, KT put Joo Kwon on the mound and substituted Kang Hyun-woo for catcher Jang Jang-woo and Jang Jun-won for shortstop Kim Sang-soo. Joo gave up a leadoff single to Shin Min-jae, but induced Kim Hyun-soo to ground out to first base and Austin to fly out to center field. Shin Min-jae then advanced to third base, but Moon Bo-kyung grounded out to center field to end the inning. In the bottom of the seventh, LG began to utilize its bullpen. After retiring leadoff hitter Kim Min-hyuk on a swinging strikeout, they got pinch-hitter Oh Yoon-seok on a fly ball to center field and Hwang Jae-gyun on a grounder to shortstop.
In the top of the eighth, KT’s third pitcher was Kim Young-hyun. KT removed third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun and brought in Song Min-seop. With leadoff hitter Oh Ji-hwan fouling out to the third baseman, Park Dong-won stepped up to the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, Park took a three-pitch fastball (148km) from Kim Young-hyun and smashed a solo arch over the center field fence. It was Park’s 19th home run of the season. Moon Sung-joo followed with a grounder to second and Park Hae-min with a strikeout. In the bottom of the eighth, LG’s third pitcher was Jung Woo-young. LG put Jeong Ju-hyun at first base in place of Austin. Jung got a triple play to end the eighth inning. He got Alford to fly out to second, Choi Jae-dae to ground out to shortstop, and Kang Hyun-woo to ground out to third.
LG added two runs in the top of the ninth. KT’s pitcher was replaced by Ha Jun-ho. Hong Chang-ki led off with a single to left and moved to second on Shin Min-jae’s sacrifice bunt. Kim Hyun-soo followed with a single to right, putting runners on first and third. Pinch-hitter Choi Seung-min was brought in to replace Kim. As soon as he entered, Choi stole second base. Jung Joo-hyun grounded out to second, but the opposing second baseman’s throwing error allowed the runners to score from third and second.
After Moon Bo-kyung walked, Oh Ji-hwan reached first base on a passed ball. In the process, there was a moment of nervousness as Oh looked at Ha Jun-ho. In the next at-bat for Park Dong-won, pinch-hitter Kim Min-sung struck out. Ha Jun-ho remained on the mound for KT, but after a battle with Moon Sung-joo, he was hit by a six-pitch pitch. The next batter was Park Hae-min. This time, Ha Jun-ho’s pitch was aimed at Park’s shoulder. The ball grazed his jersey. Two pitches in a row. Park took off his helmet and walked straight to the pitcher. This led to a bench-clearing incident as players from both teams walked off the field. Under the circumstances, it appeared that Ha Jun-ho’s pitch was missed rather than intentional. Several players in the KT dugout also waved their hands in the air, indicating that it was not intentional. Fortunately, the bench clearing was completed quickly and without much of a scuffle. The long ninth inning came to an end when Kim Joo-sung, who pinch-hit for Hong Chang-ki in the next at-bat, grounded out to third base. After the game, Oh commented on the play, “I think it was a momentary ‘oops’. It was a situation that could have been misunderstood, but when I was still a runner, (Park) Kyung-soo and (Hwang) Jae-gyun told me that it wasn’t intentional. It’s unfortunate that the game ended on a rough note, but it’s okay that the team won,” he said calmly.
In the bottom of the ninth, KT fought back. LG’s pitcher was Choi Dong-hwan. Heo Do-hwan was the new catcher. After Lee Ho-yeon walked and Shin Bon-ki singled to left, Jang Jun-won singled up the middle. After pinch-hitter Ahn Chi-young singled to left to load the bases, LG switched pitchers to Oh Seok-joo. Oh struck out Oh Yoon-seok, Song Min-seob, and Alford in succession to end the game.
LG starter Lee Jung-yong pitched a quality start, allowing three runs (three earned) on nine hits in six innings (85 pitches) with two walks and three strikeouts to improve to 7-1 on the season. He threw a mix of 48 fastballs, 27 forkballs, six sliders and four curves, with his fastball topping out at 146 mph. He threw 57 strikes. There were 28 balls. Lee Woo-chan and Jung Woo-young followed with one inning each. In the ninth inning, Choi Dong-hwan took the mound, but was unable to get a single out, and Oh Seok-joo closed out the game. For the offense, which totaled 14 hits, Moon Bo-kyung led the way with four hits, including three doubles, while Hong Chang-ki, Oh Dong-hwan, Park Dong-won, and Moon Sung-joo pounded out multi-hit performances.
After securing the win, Lee Jung-yong said, “We had a bad game yesterday, so we thought the momentum might carry over. We recognized that and tried to prepare well for the game. There were a few close calls, but I was able to get through them thanks to my defense and batting. I think my forkball was a little bit off today, so it was difficult, and there were a lot of right-handed hitters, so I tried to use my slider as a pitch, but I got a lot of walks. In the second half, I tried to go with a different pattern. It’s not too late in the season, so I’m going to try to do better. I’m going to try to take care of my body and rest as much as possible. I know the fans were really upset with the loss yesterday, but I hope they will support the players as much as possible because they are working hard.”메이저놀이터
After the game, ‘Seungjang’ coach Yeom Kyung-yup said, “Despite the fact that Lee Jung-yong had some difficulties with the forkball, he fulfilled his role as a starter and laid the foundation for the victory. In the offense, Hong Chang-ki and Oh Ji-hwan scored the tying run to set the tone for the entire game. In need of extra runs, Oh and Park Dong-won hit home runs to secure the win. I would like to praise the players for making active moves through power analysis today, and I would also like to praise the players for their unity and focus despite playing a difficult game yesterday. We were able to win today because many fans came to the game and showed their passionate support. We are always grateful to them.”
Meanwhile, KT suffered its seventh loss of the season (10 wins) as Ko Young-pyo gave up six runs (six earned) on 10 hits (one home run) with one walk and three strikeouts in six innings. He threw 103 pitches. He threw 42 fastballs and changeups side-by-side, along with 14 curves and five sliders. His fastball topped out at 140 mph and bottomed out at 132 mph. He threw 73 strikes and 30 balls. Joo Kwon pitched one inning of one-hit ball, Kim Young-hyun pitched one inning of one-hit ball, and Ha Jun-ho pitched one inning of two-hit ball. Kim Min-hyuk led the way with a multi-hit performance for a batting lineup that totaled 12 hits. A total of 10,799 fans (full capacity of 18,700) attended the game at Wiz Park.