The KT Wiz swept the Lotte Giants to complete the series sweep. The two teams were extremely evenly matched. KT has overcome an abysmal start to the season to turn their win-loss margin to -5. Lotte, on the other hand, has been in terrible form, losing 12 of their last 15 games.
KT Wiz won the home game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Lotte Giants 4-2 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, South Korea on April 22 (the 12th game between the teams).
With the victory, KT Wiz swept a three-game midweek series against Lotte to complete a three-game winning streak. They now have 29 wins, two draws, and 34 points on the season, leaving them just five points shy of the five-way tiebreaker. Lotte, on the other hand, has 32 wins and 31 losses and is just one win away from the five-point mark. Three straight losses. Lotte has lost six straight games against KT since their resignation home game on Nov. 6. The head-to-head record this season is 9-3 in KT’s favor.
Prior to the game, KT head coach Lee Kang-cheol said of Lee Ho-yeon, who was injured in the previous day’s game, “He was hit in a way that I thought it would hurt. We avoided surgery for now, but he’ll need to be checked for about a week. We’ll give him three days of rest and see if he can play.” Lee, who came to KT from Lotte via trade in May, was hit hard in the face by a foul ball he hit in the fourth inning of the previous game against Lotte. “It’s a shame because he was useful as an infield right-handed hitter,” Lee said.
Lotte manager Sutton also mentioned his injured players. Na Kyun-ahn had complained of discomfort in his right shoulder while pitching the day before. “Right now, Chau-chan is one of the potential alternate starters,” Sutton said. We’re keeping our options open and thinking about different options. “The best-case scenario is that he comes back after 10 days of rehab and rest and goes right back into the starting rotation. He needs to be checked every other day. We’ll see how it goes.”
Lotte’s starting pitcher is Lee In-bok. Lee made his first start of the season after undergoing surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in January. Sutton said of Lee before the game, “He’s been working hard in the second team. He can throw the ball efficiently. I expect him to go five innings. I want him to be himself and fight,” Sutton said.
Lotte failed to capitalize on their bases-loaded opportunities in the first and fourth innings, while KT was able to capitalize on their chances.
Lotte had good chances in the first and fourth innings, but couldn’t capitalize on the big innings. In the first inning, leadoff hitter Ko Seung-min singled up the middle, Yoon Dong-hee walked, and Jeon Jun-woo struck out, but Rex drew an eight-pitch walk. A chance for the tying run. But Ahn Chi-hong flied out to the catcher and Yoo Kang-nam grounded out to third to end the threat 안전놀이터.
Chance after crisis. KT scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning to take control of the game. After the first inning, Kim Min-hyuk singled to right-center and Alford singled to left to put runners on first and second. Park Byung-ho followed with a single to right-center, and a throwing error by the right fielder allowed Kim to score from second. (2-0)
Lotte responded with a run in the third inning. One out later, Yoon Dong-hee singled to left and two batters later, Rex hit an infield single in front of the pitcher. Ahn Chi-hong followed with an RBI double down the right field line to cut the deficit to 2-1, but Yoo Kang-nam and Kim Min-hyuk grounded out to shortstop to end the inning.
Lotte had another chance to tie the game in the fourth inning. After Park Seung-wook hit a double to right-center field, Go Seung-min and Yoon Dong-hee drew back-to-back walks two batters later. A golden opportunity for two runs. However, Jeon Jun-woo flied out to left field on a four-pitch at-bat.
It was another crisis followed by an opportunity. With one out in the bottom of the fourth inning, Choi Byeong-dae led off with an infield single to third base and stole second on a throwing error by Han Dong-hee. After reaching third on Ahn Chi-young’s grounder to shortstop, Choi was able to score on Lee In-bok’s wild pitch in the next at-bat.(3-1)
Lotte got on the board in the top of the fifth when Ahn Chi-hong reached on an infield single to third base. It was a similar situation to Han Dong-hee’s error earlier in the inning. This time, KT third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun made a one-bound throw, but first baseman Park Byung-ho failed to catch it and dropped it backwards. Meanwhile, Ahn Chi-hong reached second base safely. The official score was Hwang Jae-gyun’s throwing error after the hit, but Yoo Kang-nam struck out swinging and Han Dong-hee grounded out to shortstop.
In the bottom of the fifth inning. KT scored another run. One out later, Alford led off with a double to right-center field. He moved to third on Park Byung-ho’s deep infield hit to shortstop and came home on Hwang Jae-gyun’s single to right-center. The score was 4-1. At this point, the Lotte bench decided to pull Lee In-bok and put Shin Jeong-rak on the mound. Lee finished the day with 4 1/3 innings, eight hits, two walks, one strikeout, and four runs (three earned). His total pitch count was 78. Shin then struck out Kang Hyun-woo on a nine-pitch count and got Park Kyung-soo to fly out to left field on the first pitch of the inning.
Lotte’s offense was cut off again in the top of the sixth inning, this time by KT catcher Kang Hyun-woo. The pitcher changed from Benjamin to Joo. One out later, Hwang Sung-bin singled to center field. The next batter was Ko Seung-min. Hwang tried to steal second base, but was thrown out at second base by Kang Hyun-woo. Ko Seung-min flied out to left field to end the inning.
Down 1-4, Lotte had the tying run in scoring position in the top of the seventh, but Yoo Kang-nam’s big hit was caught in front of the fence and Han Dong-hee flied out to the catcher to end the inning.
But in the top of the seventh inning, Lotte once again had a golden opportunity. With KT changing pitchers from Joo Kwon to Son Dong-hyun, Yoon Dong-hee led off with a single that was hit by a pitch and deflected into right field. One inning later, Rex singled to right, and the KT bench was mobilized. Instead of Son Dong-hyun, KT’s most reliable bullpen arm, Park Young-hyun, was brought in, but as soon as he took the mound, he gave up a single to Ahn Chi-hong to load the bases.
The next batter was Yoo Kang-nam. It was Lotte’s third chance to score a run. It was also the game-winner. With a 2-2 count, Yoo lined a seven-pitch slider (122 km/h) from Park Young-hyun for a big hit to left-center field. However, it sank into the left fielder’s glove for the second out, allowing Yoon Dong-hee to reach third base. Yoo Kang-nam hit a sacrifice fly to center field. The score narrowed to 4-2, two runs. Han Dong-hee then stepped up to the plate, but her head was down after a foul fly out to the catcher.
With the lead down to two runs, Lotte sent Kim Sang-soo to the mound for Shim Jae-min in the bottom of the seventh inning. Suddenly, rain started pouring down at KT Wiz Park in Suwon. After the first inning, Park Byung-ho drew a walk, but Hwang Jae-gyun threw him out at shortstop. In the eighth inning, Park Young-hyun took the mound and lived up to the expectations of KT fans. He struck out Park Seung-wook on five pitches and got Hwang Sung-bin to fly out to center field on the first pitch. After giving up a hit to Ko Seung-min, the KT bench brought up ‘closer’ Kim Jae-yoon. It was a four-out save situation. Kim Jae-yoon induced Yoon Dong-hee to ground out to second base to end the inning. Kim Jae-yoon, who also took the mound in the ninth inning, 안전놀이터순위 calmly retired the first three Lotte batters to preserve the win.
For KT, Benjamin pitched five innings of six-hit ball with four strikeouts and one run (one earned) to improve to 7-3 on the season. Joo Kwon (1 inning, 14 pitches), Son Dong-hyun (⅓ inning, 1 run, 10 pitches), Park Young-hyun (1⅓ innings, 25 pitches), and Kim Jae-yoon (1⅓ innings) followed to secure the win. In a batting lineup that pounded out eight hits, Park Byung-ho led the way with a 3-for-3 performance with a home run, a walk, and an RBI, while Alford was equally good with two hits and two runs scored.
Lotte, on the other hand, was shaken up by starter Lee In-bok, with Shin Jeong-rak (1 inning), Shim Jae-min (⅔ inning), Kim Sang-soo (1 inning), and Koo Seung-min (1 inning) coming in and spreading the ball around. In the batting lineup, which totaled nine hits, Go Seung-min, Yoon Dong-hee, Rex, and Ahn Chi-hong had multi-hit games, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the team from losing.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “Benjamin did his job as a starter by limiting the runs as much as possible. We expect better pitching from him in the future. Park Young-hyun and Kim Jae-yoon also did a good job in defense. Joo-Kwon also did his part. In the batting lineup, Park Byung-ho set the tone for the game by capitalizing on his chances in the first inning. We were able to win the game with an extra run. Thank you to the players for their hard work in bad weather, and thank you to the fans for watching until the end.”
With the loss, Lotte has now lost 12 of its last 15 games. It started with an 0-6 loss to KIA on April 4 in the final game of a three-game weekend series. They were swept in a three-game series against the KT Wiz from June 6-8 at Sajik Baseball Stadium. From the 9th to the 11th, they won two games against the Samsung Lions on the road and took the series in Luzing. They followed that up with a home three-game series against Hanwha from the 13th to the 15th, which also ended in a losing series, and a three-game series against SSG last weekend (16th to 18th), which also ended in a losing series. This time, they dropped a sweep in a midweek three-game series against KT.
Lotte now travels to Jamsil for a three-game weekend series against the top-ranked LG Twins. KT, on the other hand, travels to Gwangju for a three-game weekend series against the KIA Tigers.