Landers cruise past Heroes to even Korean Series

The SSG Landers defeated the Kiwoom Heroes 6-1 to draw even in the Korean Series on Wednesday, shaking off an extra-inning loss from 24 hours earlier in the South Korean baseball championship round.

No. 2 hitter Choi Ji-hoon homered as part of a three-hit night for the victorious home team at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, just west of Seoul. Landers starter Wilmer Font tossed seven innings of one-run ball, and the Landers scored three runs without the benefit of a hit after loading the bases in the first inning.

With the teams knotted at 1-1, Game 3 of this best-of-seven series will start at 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Heroes’ home, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

For the second straight game, the Landers opened the scoring, with Heroes starter Tyler Eppler unable to find the strike zone early.

Eppler loaded the bases with nobody out after two singles and a walk. The right-hander then walked in a run, after losing a five-pitch battle to Han Yoo-seom.

The Landers then picked up two more runs on consecutive groundouts by Juan Lagares and Park Seong-han.

Font looked dialed in from early going. He struck out the first two batters in the first inning and pitched around a one-out double and a balk in the second inning to keep the Heroes off the board.

But Font pitched himself into trouble in the third, loading the bases after allowing two walks and a double.

He escaped with minimal damage, though, as the Heroes managed just one run from that opportunity on a double play by Lee Yong-kyu. Lee Jung-hoo, the Heroes’ most dangerous hitter, flied out to left to strand a runner at third.

Eppler kept the Heroes in the game, allowing just one hit from the second to fourth innings after the shaky opening frame.

His teammates were kept in check by Font, and then the Landers extended their lead in the bottom fifth.

With a runner at first, Choi Ji-hoon smoked a two-run homer to right field for a 5-1 Landers lead. It was Choi’s first career postseason home run and provided a measure of personal redemption for the 25-year-old center fielder after a couple of misplays on defense.

And that was all the cushion Font needed. He retired the side in order on just seven pitches in the top of the sixth, and then escaped the seventh inning unscathed after allowing consecutive one-out singles.

Landers captain Han Yoo-seom joined the party with an opposite field solo shot in the bottom seventh.

The Landers’ top two hitters in the lineup, Choo Shin-soo and Choi Ji-hoon, combined to go 5-for-9 with two RBIs and four runs scored. (Yonhap)