The Doosan Bears swept the NC Dinos at a crucial juncture to solidify a top-five finish and keep their hopes alive for a third place finish.
The Doosan Bears cruised to an 11-1 victory over the NC Dinos in their 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Wednesday.
The win keeps Doosan in fifth place in the league with a record of 72 wins, 65 losses, and two ties. NC was tied for third place with SSG Landers with 73 wins, 64 losses, and two draws before the game. However, with the loss to Doosan, NC dropped to fourth place, losing sole possession of third place to SSG. At the same time, the gap between them and fifth-place Doosan has narrowed to 0.5 games from 1.5.
Doosan now has five games in hand. They welcome KIA to their home field on the 13th, followed by a two-game series against their ‘Jamsil rivals’ the LG Twins on the 14th and 15th. A win against KIA on the 13th would give Doosan a huge advantage in the race for the top five. The team then hosts the SSG Landers at Jamsil Stadium on the 16th before traveling to Incheon to face SSG again on the 17th to close out the pennant race.
NC now has four games left. They travel to Changwon to take on the LG Twins on the 13th before taking a day off to face the Samsung Lions on the 15th. They then travel to Gwangju on the 16th for a two-game series against KIA to close out their regular season schedule.
The race for the top spot this season is heating up as the season comes to a close. The LG Twins have already clinched the regular season title, while second-place KT Wiz has secured a direct playoff berth. However, in third through sixth place, SSG, NC, Doosan, and KIA are fighting for a spot in the top five. On the day, KIA, who are still chasing a postseason ticket, kept their postseason hopes alive by defeating Lotte 6-5 at home. Sixth-place KIA moved back to within two games of Doosan with 71 wins, 68 losses and two draws. With three games to go, KIA can close the gap to one game if they win at Doosan in Jamsil on the 13th. There is also the possibility of the first best-of-five series in KBO history. If KIA wins both games on the 13th, followed by a doubleheader against NC and Gwangju on the 16th and 17th, and Doosan goes two for three in their remaining five games, the first ever fifth place tiebreaker could be on the line.
Jang Won-jun pitched 2⅔ innings of four-hit ball with one strikeout and one run (one earned), while Lee Young-ha pitched three innings of two-hit ball with three strikeouts and no walks in the second game. Lee earned his fifth win of the season (three wins). Lee Byeon-heon pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings with two strikeouts, followed by Choi Ji-gang in ⅓ inning, Park Chi-guk in ⅔ inning, and Hong Gun-hee in one scoreless inning. For the offense, which pounded out 11 hits, Rojas led the way with a 4-for-3 performance (one home run), two RBIs and three runs scored, while Heo Kyung-min also had a multi-hit game and Yang Yang-ji came through in clutch fashion with a 1-for-4 performance (one home run), three RBIs and one run scored.
NC, on the other hand, suffered its fifth loss of the season (four wins) as starter Lee Jae-hak faltered after giving up seven runs (six earned) on seven hits (two home runs) with two strikeouts in three innings. Lee Jun-ho gave up three runs (two earned) on two hits (one home run) in 2.2 innings, while Kim Si-hoon and Ha Jun-young combined for a scoreless inning. Shin Min-hyuk closed out the game with two innings of two-hit ball, striking out two and allowing two runs (two earned). The seven-hit lineup was led by Son Ah-seop’s multi-hit performance.
Doosan-NC manager’s pregame comments
Before the game, Doosan head coach Lee Seung-yeop spoke to the media and said, “My heart is heavy after losing two games in a row away from home. I think our team and our coaching staff are not good enough to lose back-to-back games. We still have six games left. We will start winning again from today,” he said. Doosan had recently lost two straight games against Suwon KT and Busan Lotte. The two unexpected losses on the road have left them two games behind the sixth-place KIA Tigers. Lee said, “I’m looking forward to Jang Won-jun’s good form against the NC. “We didn’t send out Jang Won-jun just for the NC. It just happened. However, if he doesn’t look good in the early innings, we can make a quick change. The second pitcher will be Lee Young-ha.” Jang Won-jun has performed well in the NC this year, going 1-2 with a 2.81 ERA. “Eventually, the bats have to break through. We are hoping that our core hitters, including Kim Jae-hwan, will do their part.”
NC head coach Kang In-hwa was not far behind. Speaking to reporters before the game, Kang said, “No matter what our ranking is, once we’re in the top five, I think we’ll be able to operate easily after that. I think every game is important, especially today’s game and tomorrow’s (Nov. 13) game against LG Electronics. We will give it our all,” he said, showing his determination. Kang also talked about Pedi, who has been the best ace in the KBO this season. With his victorious pitching performance against the Hanwha Eagles on the 10th, Pedi recorded 20 wins and 204 strikeouts, setting the single-season record of 20 wins and 200 strikeouts for the first time in 37 years since Sun Dong-yeol. On the possibility of Pedi’s future appearance, Kang said, “I told him to prepare for the start. If he goes out, it’s against KIA on the 16th. However, he’s been throwing a lot this season, so there is a side of him that complains of fatigue. I’m still talking to my pitching coach. If you’re going to be in a playoff game, you have to focus on that and not think about what’s behind you. In the postseason, Tenor might go first,” he said. In the end, the best-case scenario for NC is to clinch a spot in the top five as soon as possible. After the game against Samsung on the 15th, they will be able to confirm their entry into fall baseball. “But I don’t think we’ll know until the end of the season,” Kang said.
Doosan’s starting batting order was Jung Soo-bin (center fielder), Rojas (designated hitter), Yang Seok-hwan (first baseman), Yang Ji (catcher), Kim Jae-hwan (left fielder), Kang Seung-ho (second baseman), Kim Jae-ho (shortstop), Heo Kyung-min (third baseman), and Cho Su-hyung (right fielder). The starting pitcher was Jang Won-jun.
NC’s starting batting order was Son Asub (designated hitter), Park Min-woo (second base), Park Gun-woo (right field), Martin (center field), Park Byeol (left field), Oh Young-soo (first base), Kim Joo-won (shortstop), Park Se-hyuk (catcher), and Park Joo-chan (third base). The starting pitcher was Lee Jae-hak.
The two teams traded runs in the first inning, signaling a fierce batting battle. In the top of the first, NC’s leadoff hitter Son As-seob led off with a single up the middle and moved to second on a wild pitch. Park Min-woo followed with a single to right to put runners on first and third, but Martin followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to bring in Sohn from third.(0-1) Park struck out the side.
Doosan answered in the bottom of the next inning. With the bases loaded, Rojas took a low fastball (143km/h) from NC starter Lee Jae-hak for a game-tying solo shot over the right field fence. It was Rojas’ 18th home run of the season. It traveled 123.9 meters, had a bat speed of 169 km/h and a launch angle of 23.8 degrees. The game was tied 1-1.
Dusan Rojas circles the bases after hitting a home run in the first inning.
Doosan head coach Lee Seung-yeop reacts to Rojas’ (left) tying solo shot in the first inning.
NC led off the second inning with a single up the middle, but Kim Joo-won was thrown out at shortstop. Park Se-hyuk grounded out to second base. Inning over. In the bottom of the second inning, Doosan came back. One out later, Kang Seung-ho singled up the middle, followed by Kim Jae-ho’s timely double down the left field line (2-1).
In the third inning, Doosan scored four runs to take the lead. In the top of the third, NC’s leadoff hitter, Park Joo-chan, singled down the right field line. It was Park’s first career hit. After graduating from Dongmak-scho, Gyeongpo-joong, Gangneung-go, and Dong-A University, Park joined the organization as a developmental player in 2019 and signed a formal contract with NC this year. He made his first professional appearance on April 10 against Changwon Hanwha and got a hit in his second game. On the next at-bat, Son stole second base, but Park Min-woo grounded out in front of the pitcher. Jang Won-jun’s job was done. With Park Gun-woo batting third, Doosan manager Lee Seung-yeop sent Lee Young-ha to the mound. Lee struck out Park Gun-woo on a fly ball to center field to end the inning.안전놀이터
NC Park Joo-chan unwraps his equipment at first base after scoring his first hit in the third inning against Doosan in Jamsil on Wednesday.
In the bottom of the third inning. Doosan’s leadoff hitter Jung Soo-bin led off with a single to left and moved to second on Rojas’ bunt single. Yang Seok-hwan followed with a single to left to make it 3-1. Yang was the next batter up. On a 1-2 pitch count, he took a four-pitch changeup (125 mph) for a three-run arch over the left-center field fence. Yang’s 17th home run of the season. The score was 6-1. The ball traveled 122.9 meters and had a bat speed of 170.8 mph. The launch angle was 24 degrees. Eventually, NC starter Lee Jae-hak’s job was done. Lee took the mound as the second pitcher and gave up a single to Kang Seung-ho in the first inning, but he struck out Kim Jae-ho on a pitch in front of the plate to end the long third inning.
In the top of the fourth inning, Doosan took Kim Jae-hwan out of the game and replaced him with Kim Tae-geun. “He had pain in his right hand while batting, so we replaced him with Kim Tae-geun,” a Doosan official explained. Lee continued to pitch well in the top of the fourth, striking out Martin, Park Han-yeol, and Oh Young-soo. Doosan added three more runs in the bottom of the fourth to put the game out of reach. Leadoff hitter Heo Kyung-min blasted a two-run shot to left field (7-1) on a 2-2 pitch, a five-pitch, 144-kilometer fastball. It was Heo’s seventh home run of the season. The distance was 105 meters. The bat speed was 149.7 kilometers. The launch angle was 35.6 degrees. Doosan extended its lead to 8-1 in the bottom of the first inning when Jung Soo-bin walked and stole second, followed by Rojas’ timely triple down the right field line. Yang Seok-hwan followed with a sacrifice fly to center field, making the score 9-1.
Doosan’s Heo Kyung-min (right) comes home after hitting a solo shot in the fourth inning. /Photo=News1
Heo Kyung-min (right) celebrates with his teammates in the dugout after hitting a home run in the fourth inning.
Doosan Rojas (left) completes his triple in the fourth inning.
With Doosan taking the lead, the bats of both teams struggled to get on base after that. In the top of the fifth, NC had runners on second and third after an error and a single by Son Asub, but Park Min-woo fouled out to left field. In the bottom of the fifth, NC sent down Lee Jun-ho and brought up Kim Si-hoon. Kim struck out three Doosan batters to end the inning. In the top of the sixth inning, NC had another chance when Park Han-yeol singled with two outs. Doosan brought up Lee Byung-hun in place of Lee Young-ha, and he struck out Oh Young-soo to end the threat. NC also removed Kim Si-hoon in the bottom of the sixth and brought in Ha Jun-young. Ha struck out Heo Kyung-min, Cho Sun-soo, and Jeong Soo-bin in the outfield.
NC attacks in the top of the seventh inning. The game was heading into the bottom half of the inning, but they couldn’t find a rhythm. Leadoff hitter Kim Ju-won singled up the middle, but pinch-hitter Kim Hyung-joon struck out swinging. Park Joo-chan and Son As-seop also popped out to the outfield. In the bottom of the seventh, NC’s pitcher was Shin Min-hyuk. Rojas stepped up to the plate. Jamsil Stadium began to heat up. Before this at-bat, Rojas had a home run, a triple, and a single. He was one double away from a hit for the cycle. However, Rojas struck out on a full-count, six-pitch changeup from Shin Min-hyuk. Rojas made a short appeal to the umpire, but the strike had already been called. Yang Suk-hwan and Yang Ji-do followed with singles.
Doosan Rojas (second from left) appeals to the umpire for a strike call after being hit by a pitch in the seventh inning.
NC got on the board in the top of the eighth inning when leadoff hitter Park Min-woo drew a walk against reliever Choi Ji-gang, and Martin followed with a straight ball one out later. The pitcher was replaced by Park Chi-guk. Park got out of the jam by striking out Park Han-yeol on a wild pitch and Oh Young-soo on a grounder to third base. In the bottom of the eighth, Doosan added another run. After pinch-hitter Kim In-tae walked on an eight-pitch count, two batters later, Heo Kyung-min hit an RBI double to left-center (10-1), and Cho Ji-sung followed with a single to right to make it 11-1. The next batter, Jung Soo-bin, grounded out to first base. End of the inning. In the top of the ninth, Hong Gun-hee came on and struck out Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon on three pitches each before inducing Park Joo-chan to fly out to center field to complete his task.
After the win, Lee Seung-yeop said, “We gave up an early lead, but Rojas came through quickly with the tying run to get us back in the game. Rojas not only hit the home run, but also laid the foundation for the big inning with a surprise bunt in the third inning with the bases loaded, and Yang Seok-hwan followed suit with a bunt attempt. We can’t forget about Yang’s performance. He overcame an unfavorable pitch count to hit a crucial three-run home run, showing his true colors as the No. 4 hitter. Captain Heo Kyung-min also contributed to the team’s victory with two hits, including a home run. On the mound, Lee Young-ha pitched three scoreless innings with four strikeouts. “We were able to break the losing streak thanks to our fans who supported us. Thank you,” she said.
Rojas, who was one hit shy of a cycle hit, said, “It’s great to break the losing streak as the standings are tight and every game counts. The whole team hit well and we were able to get the win. I was focused from the first at-bat, trying to get on base somehow, and luckily it turned into a home run. I didn’t think much about the cycling hit. I think it was my destiny. Right now, the team win is more important than my record. I will try to contribute to the team’s victory in the remaining games like I did today,” he said.