[Gwangju Game Notes] Yang Hyun-jong and KIA don’t give up on fall… 11-0 win over Kiwoom, hope for PS upset

It’s a long shot at this point, but Yang and KIA still believe in the possibility. A big win over Kiwoom keeps their postseason hopes alive.

KIA cruised to an 11-0 victory over Kiwoom in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on Wednesday, capitalizing on a strong pitching performance from starter Yang Hyun-jong, an early batting surge, and opponent errors. KIA (70 wins, 68 losses, and 2 draws), which lost to SSG the previous day, turned things around in a day’s time and rejoined the chase for third through fifth place. Meanwhile, Kiwoom (58W82L3D) dropped back to the bottom of the table.토토사이트

Prior to today’s game, sixth-place KIA was three games behind fifth-place Doosan and four games behind third-place SSG and NC. Given that they only had five games left, they needed to win all of their remaining matches and see how the teams in third through fifth place performed. Considering that they still had one game against Doosan and two against NC, they were in the most unfavorable position, but not in a position to give up. The premise of the KIA comeback was to win as many games as possible in the five remaining games, and they did just that.

Starting pitcher Yang Hyun-jong was outstanding. With 10 wins on the line this year, Yang was solid on the day, throwing 97 pitches over eight innings, allowing six hits, walking four and striking out six to earn his eighth win of the season. He lowered his season ERA to 3.68.

Yang has now pitched at least 170 innings in eight consecutive years, an unprecedented streak in KBO history. Before this game, he had thrown 156 innings and was 14 innings away from reaching 170 for the ninth straight year. He needed to go as many innings as he could today to have a chance at extending his record in his final outing, and he did just that by going eight innings. If Yang throws six innings in his final outing, he will complete the feat of throwing at least 170 innings for the ninth consecutive year.

The bats kept pace. Leadoff hitter Kim Do-young had one hit, one walk, and two RBIs, while No. 2 Ko Jong-wook paced the offense with five hits, two walks, one RBI, and two runs scored. Rows one through four were active, with Kim Sun-bin, who added a hit on the day to become the 44th player in KBO history to reach 1,500 hits, going 2-for-4 with an RBI, and Socrates Brito going 3-for-5 with two RBI. Lee Woo-sung had two hits, and the bottom of the order also harassed Kiwoom’s mound by drawing a lot of walks.

Kiwoom’s starter, Lee Jong-min, was shaken up in the second inning, giving up four runs (two earned) in one inning. He got himself into trouble with four walks, which was compounded by an error. Ha Young-min (2 runs in the first inning) and Lee Myung-jong (5 runs in the third inning) also struggled, giving up 11 runs in the fifth inning alone and effectively raising the white flag. While Yoon Seok-won and Oh Sang-won pitched a scoreless first inning, the errors poured in at every turn, totaling four. The offense was led by Lee Ju-hyung with two hits.

KIA was on the edge of a cliff. One loss could now lead to elimination from the fall baseball season. With Na Sung-beom, Choi Hyung-woo, Park Chan-ho, and Choi Won-joon already out for the season due to injuries, the team pulled together all available resources. Kim Do-young (third base) and Ko Jong-wook (designated hitter) set the table, and Kim Sun-bin (second base), Socrates (right field), and Lee Woo-sung (left field) made up the center of the batting order. Kim Tae-gun, who had some ankle inflammation, returned to the lineup as the sixth catcher, with Byun Woo-hyuk (first base), Kim Ho-ryung (center field), and Kim Kyu-sung (shortstop) in the bottom of the order.

The previous day’s loss to SSG was disappointing. With the score tied at 4-4, they couldn’t hold on. Kia coach Kim Jong-guk explained that he saved Jeon Sang-hyun, Jung Hae-young, and Choi Ji-min in a close game because he was more confident and wanted to use them in a winning situation. In a winning situation, it would have meant that both Jeon Sang-hyun and Choi Ji-young could have pitched three straight games. But that was in the past, and they had to focus on Kiwoom.

Kim Hye-sung (second base) and Dawson (center field) set the table for Kiwoom, while Lee Ju-hyung (designated hitter), Kim Hwi-jip (shortstop), and Song Sung-moon (third base) lined up in the center field. Lim Ji-yeol (first baseman), Park Chan-hyuk (left fielder), Kim Dong-heon (catcher), and Park Su-jong (right fielder) followed.

Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki hoped that the emergence of younger players would accelerate the team’s competitiveness and praised Park’s recent form. He also had high hopes for Lee Jong-min, who started the game.

Kiwoom self-destructs in the second inning, but KIA takes the lead from the start

In the first inning, neither team scored a run, but in the second inning, KIA calmly created an offensive flow. It started with Kim Tae-gun drawing a walk on a full count. Lee Jong-min started to falter. Byun Woo-hyuk followed with a straight grounder, and then Kim Ho-ryung drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.

Kim Kyu-sung’s grounder to shortstop led to an error by Kiwoom, but the not-so-fast Tagura was able to get home. Instead of choosing second or first, Kiwoom shortstop Kim Hwijip threw the ball to third to catch Byun Woo-hyuk, who was running to third, and it became a bad throw and fell backwards. Byun Woo-hyuk came home to make it 2-0, and Kim Ho-ryung and Kim Kyu-sung advanced one base apiece.

With nobody out and runners on second and third, Kiwoom brought in Ha Young-min to put the game out of reach. Kim Do-young’s grounder to second allowed Kim Ho-ryung to score from third, giving KIA a 3-0 lead. In the next at-bat, Ko Jong-wook singled up the middle (4-0) and Kim Sun-bin reached on a throwing error in left field to put runners on first and second. Socrates followed with a single to right field to extend the rally.

Eventually, Lee Woo-sung’s grounder to third scored another run for KIA, and Kim Tae-gun’s grounder to third resulted in another error by the third baseman, Song Sung-moon, which quickly increased the lead to six runs. For Kiwoom, three errors led to six runs.

With Yang Hyun-jong receiving generous run support in the first inning, KIA added a run in the third to keep the momentum going. Leadoff hitter Kim Ho-ryung drew a nine-pitch walk, and a batter later, Kim Do-young drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Go Jong-wook grounded out to first base to put runners on second and third, but Kim Sun-bin’s shot hit the pitcher and flowed to the shortstop for an infield single, giving KIA one more run.

Yang Hyeon-jong’s reversal of fortune sealed the win for KIA in the fifth inning

Yang Hyun-jong pitched efficiently. Since it wasn’t a tight game, he pitched more aggressively, and the Kiwoom batters fell into a rut. Meanwhile, the pitch count dropped. With a pitch count of just over 10 pitches per inning and five comeback runs, it’s safe to say he’ll be back for more.

The batting lineup pushed Yang Hyun-jong hard. They added another run in the fifth inning to make it 11-0. Kim Ho-ryung opened the inning with a double to right-center field. A batter later, Kim Do-young added a run with a single to center field that slipped between the shortstop and second baseman (8-0).

It didn’t end there. Ko Jong-wook singled to right to put runners on first and second, and Kim Sun-bin followed with a single up the middle to load the bases. From there, Socrates hit a two-run double down the right field line (10-0) to extend the lead to double digits. Lee Woo-sung’s grounder to shortstop brought home one more run to make it 11-0.

Yang Hyun-jong did not falter. In the sixth inning, Kim Dong-heon, Park Soo-jong, and Kim Hye-sung all singled. Only four pitches were needed to end the inning. In the seventh, Lee Ju-hyung singled in the first inning, but the rest of the batters were retired to reach the seven-inning plateau.

With Kia leading 11-0 in the eighth inning, Yang Hyun-jong’s last chance to score came in the bottom of the inning. One out later, Park Chan-hyuk singled up the middle and Kim Dong-heon’s throw was heavy in front of the center fielder, putting runners on first and second. Park Soo-jong followed with a single to left field, putting runners on first and second. It was a chance to prevent a scoreless defeat.

But Yang Hyun-jong stepped up. Kim Hye-sung went for another fastball, but it was a foul fly to the third baseman. It was a moment when Kiwoom’s momentum subsided. Ye Jin-won followed with a grounder to the second baseman, leaving the bases loaded with no outs.

With his pitch count nearing 100, Yang Hyun-jong handed the baton over for the next game rather than attempting his fifth career complete game. In the ninth, Kim Seung-hyun pitched a scoreless inning to complete the shutout.

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