‘Two outs in the bottom of the ninth,’ Kang roars with super catch
‘I believe in myself’ manager Kang In-hwa’s tenacious baseball paid off.
NC won the second game of the 2023 KBO League Playoffs 3-2 against KT at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on 31 March.
It was NC’s sixth straight win in this year’s postseason and their ninth straight win in the postseason overall. Manager Kang Myung-hwa’s faithful baseball shone through.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, with runners on second and third, NC brought in closer Lee Yong-chan early. 먹튀검증토토사이트 Kim Sang-soo hit Yoo’s first pitch for an RBI single up the middle to make it 3-2.
Hwang Jae-gyun singled up the middle to tie the game at 2-2. Alford struck out swinging on three pitches.
Lee Yong-chan continued to pitch in the ninth inning. The KT leadoff hitter gave up a single up the middle to Park Byung-ho, who had been hitless in seven at-bats since the first inning. Yong-chan’s expression didn’t change, but he lowered his head in disappointment.
Jang Jang-woo then hit a ball that deflected off the second baseman and into the outfield. There were runners on first and third with no outs.
Lee Yong-chan struck out Moon Sang-chul with a swinging strike.
Song Min-seop pinch-hit for Kim Jun-tae. Kim struck out after a six-pitch at-bat. Jung Jun-young, the leadoff hitter, stole second base. When Choi Jae-dae stepped up to the plate, he was hit by an automatic double play. One hit could have turned the game around. The NC bench remained motionless.
With two outs, Oh Yoon-seok stepped up to the plate. The ball sailed into the glove of a diving shortstop, Kim Joo-won. At that moment, manager Kang Myung-hyun, who had been shaking his hand warmer in nervousness, pumped his fist and cheered. Pitching coach Kim Soo-kyung also roared and celebrated the victory.
After the game, Kang said, “Kim Young-kyu’s arm wasn’t very clean. It was lower than his fastball. I tried to keep him out of the game as much as possible today, so I had to use Ryu Jin-wook and Lee Yong-chan to finish the game. When Yong-chan was shaky, there was definitely no trump card behind him, so I had to trust him.”
After the second game of the semi-finals, Kang said of the reappointment of Yong-chan, who had been on a shaky run, “If you replace a closer with another pitcher now, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the result will be good. If we make a change and fail again, I think it will be a case of losing the rationale and not being able to find a solution, so I’m going to trust Yong-chan more.”
Kang’s baseball of faith has led to a must-win formula.
NC needs to win Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs and one win in the remaining three games to reach the Korean Series for the first time since 2020. Historically, teams that win two straight playoff games have an 88.2 per cent chance of advancing to the Korean Series.