SEOUL-- Wielding suddenly hot bats, the LG Twins beat the Doosan Bears 9-3 to even their South Korean baseball postseason series at one game apiece on Friday.
Third baseman Kim Min-sung went 4-for-4 with three RBIs from the No. 7 spot in Game 2 of the first round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul -- this a day after going 0-for-4 from the fifth spot.
No. 8 hitter Moon Sung-ju also knocked in three runs, as the Twins snapped their postseason losing streak against the Bears at five games. The Twins pounded out 14 hits and scored seven of their nine runs with two outs.
Game 3 is 2 p.m. Sunday, back at Jamsil. These two clubs share the Seoul stadium as their home, and the Twins, as the higher seed, will be the home team in the deciding game.
LG starter Casey Kelly, who got drilled in the abdomen by a comebacker in the first inning, pitched 5 2/3 strong innings for his second career postseason win. The American right-hander allowed one run -- unearned -- on five hits and four walks while striking out five.
The Twins, which went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position in Game 1, got on the board first in the top second with Kim Min-sung's two-out single.
Kim picked up his second RBI of the game as part of a two-run fourth inning for the Twins.
With runners at first and second, Kim smacked a single to left, and Yoo Kang-nam, the slowest Twin in the lineup, came chugging down the third base line.
The throw from left fielder Kim Jae-hwan arrived well ahead of the runner but was a bit off the line, forcing catcher Park Sei-hyok to move behind the plate to catch the ball. Yoo then beat the tag with a feet-first slide to put the Twins in front 2-0.
Moon Sung-ju then followed with a single for a 3-0 lead.
The Bears threatened to eat into the Twins' lead in the bottom fifth, putting two runners on with two outs for Fernandez, who'd hit two doubles against Kelly.
But Kelly got the better of Fernandez, striking him out with a fastball to keep the Bears off the board.
The Bears finally broke through in the bottom sixth, with cleanup Kim Jae-hwan driving in their first run with a single after Park Kun-woo had reached second on a throwing error by Kim Min-sung.
Kelly issued a walk to put two men aboard and handed the reins over to the bullpen. Reliever Kim Dae-yu then battled pinch hitter Kim In-tae to full count before striking him out looking at a slider.
The Twins then broke the game wide open with a five-spot in the top seventh.
With a man at second, Kim Hyun-soo chopped the ball back to reliever Lee Kyo-hoon, who tried to field it but ended up deflecting it to shortstop Kim Jae-ho. But as the ball suddenly changed its direction, Kim couldn't come up with it and watched it roll into center field for a run-scoring play.
The Twins were just getting started. Three batters later, Moon Bo-gyeong made it 5-1 Twins with a single. Kim Min-sung then got his third RBI with his fourth hit of the night. Moon Sung-ju capped off the wild inning with a two-run double to left field, putting the Twins ahead 8-1.
The Bears loaded the bases with none out in the bottom seventh on a hit-by-pitch and two straight singles, but could only muster one run.
At one out, Kim Jae-hwan sent a towering fly to deep center field. It was caught right in front of the wall, and the Bears settled for a sacrifice fly that cut the deficit to 8-2.
The Bears got a run back in the bottom eighth, and the Twins responded with a run in the top ninth to round out the scoring.
LG skipper Ryu Ji-hyun said he was heartened by breakout performances from Kim Min-sung and Moon Sung-ju.
"It was encouraging to see them swing the bat so well, and it should give them even more confidence for the next game," Ryu said. "There were a lot of positives from this game."
Kelly improved to 2-0 for his postseason career, and the Twins have won all four of his postseason starts.
"We have so much faith in Kelly," Ryu said. "His teammates believe that he'll always throw a good game and keep innings short for the fielders. I think that type of trust leads to wins like this."
Ryu said right-hander Im Chan-kyu will start Game 3. He was only 1-8 with a 3.87 ERA in the regular season, though he had a solid 3.60 ERA in two starts versus the Bears.
The Bears will counter with Kim Min-gyu, who had a 7.20 ERA in three regular season meetings against the Twins.
The Bears, minus staters Ariel Miranda and Walker Lockett, will likely rely heavily on their bullpen while keeping Kim on a short leash.
The game set a KBO attendance record during the COVID-19 pandemic with 21,679 fans. Thursday's game drew a then-record 19,846, and it was wiped off the record books under Friday night lights at Jamsil.
KBO teams spent most of the regular season at empty stadiums or in front of small crowds. But outdoor sporting events fully reopened this week as part of a nationwide campaign to return to normalcy.
Source: Yonhap News Agency