Heroes beat Twins to even KBO postseason series

With their relentless offense inflicting early damage, the Kiwoom Heroes defeated the LG Twins 7-6 on Tuesday to even their Korean baseball postseason series at one game apiece.

The Heroes batted around and scored five times in the top of the second inning at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, while the bullpen held off a furious late charge by the Twins.

Game 3 of this best-of-five second round is 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Heroes’ home, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

The Heroes pounded out 16 hits. Eight of their nine batters in the starting lineup got at least a hit, led by three-hit days from Lee Jung-hoo and Kim Hye-seong. Designated hitter Lee Yong-kyu went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

The Heroes, after giving up three runs on three errors in Monday’s 6-3 loss, scored their first run on this night thanks to a Twins misplay.

With runners at the corners following two singles, a passed ball charged to catcher Yoo Kang-nam got the first run across for the Heroes.

The Heroes dodged a bullet in the bottom first, when the Twins loaded the bases with two outs. Starter Eric Joksich fell behind 3-1 in the count against Moon Bo-gyeong, before retiring him on a soft grounder to second base.

The Heroes made the Twins pay for that missed opportunity, putting up a five-spot in the top of the second to chase starter Adam Plutko from the game.

A single and a sacrifice bunt put a runner at second for Song Sung-mun, who smacked an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.

Song Sung-mun of the Kiwoom Heroes, center, is greeted by teammates after scoring a run against the LG Twins during the top of the second inning of Game 2 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Oct. 25. Yonhap
Lee Jung-hoo of the Kiwoom Heroes celebrates his RBI double against the LG Twins during the top of the second inning of Game 2 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Oct. 25. Yonhap

Three batters later, now with runners at second and third, Lee Yong-kyu doubled the Heroes’ lead with a single to right-center field.

Lee Jung-hoo then brought Lee Yong-kyu home with a double off the right field wall.

Kim Hye-seong followed up with a single to left. Lee Jung-hoo made the turn at third but pulled up as left fielder Kim Hyun-soo threw home.

Kim Hye-seong tried to advance to second on the play, and Yoo’s attempt to nab him at the bag instead skipped into center field, allowing Lee to score easily for a 6-0 lead.

Plutko was lifted after that run. He faced 13 hitters, and gave up eight hits and a walk, though two of the six runs he allowed were unearned.

The Twins showed some life in the two-run third inning. After singles by Park Hae-min and Kim Hyun-soo, Chae Eun-seong’s double to left cashed in both runners, with Kim scoring after left fielder Kim Jun-wan mishandled the carom off the left field corner and let the ball scoot through the five hole.

But the Heroes responded with a run in the top fourth, courtesy of Kim Hye-seong’s two-out single, to pull ahead to 7-2.

Song Sung-mun of the Kiwoom Heroes, center, is greeted by teammates after scoring a run against the LG Twins during the top of the second inning of Game 2 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Oct. 25. Yonhap
LG Twins second baseman Kim Min-sung, right, misses the throw by catcher Yoo Kang-nam during the top of the second inning of Game 2 of the second round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, Oct. 25. Yonhap

The Twins kept plugging away, though, and cut it to 7-6 after a four-run fifth.

Kim Hyun-soo’s RBI single made it 7-3. Jokisch then made an errant throw to first after fielding a comebacker by Chae Eun-seong, putting runners at second and third before being lifted.

New pitcher Yang Hyun gave up a sacrifice fly that cut the lead to 7-4. The right-hander then issued three straight walks to push in a run, and suddenly the Heroes’ lead was down to just 7-5.

Another sac fly, this time by pinch hitter Lee Jae-won, brought the Twins within a run at 7-6.

Then the battle of the bullpens ensued, and the Heroes got 4 2/3 shutout innings from their last four relief pitchers.

The Twins stranded two runners in the sixth but went down in order in the next two innings before a leadoff walk was erased on a double play in the ninth.

Kiwoom manager Hong Won-ki said putting runs on the board early was a key, with the bullpen coming up huge in late innings.

“We had the early momentum on our side, and then our relievers did an excellent job after Jokisch couldn’t get out of the fifth inning,” Hong said. “I felt that if we get the split here, we could really go for it at home over the next two games. We’re looking forward to Game 3.”

LG manager Ryu Ji-hyun lamented an abbreviated outing by Plutko.

“We had to get him out of the game earlier than we wanted, and we had to play catchup the rest of the way,” Ryu said, adding Plutko didn’t report any physical issues. “But we battled hard until the end. We’ll have to regroup and get ready for Game 3.” (Yonhap)