No starters, no must-win group, KIA wins—“Thanks to all the players for their hard work”

Kia scores a three-run victory in a no-decision.

Kia defeated NC 7-4 on Sunday at NC Park in Changwon, led by Na Sung-beom’s two-run homer in the top of the ninth inning after leading 5-4. Leader Kia, which was trailing second-place NC by one game, widened the gap to two games with the head-to-head victory.

It was a very tough game. It was expected to be a tough game from the start. Kia traveled to Changwon after playing Doosan in Gwangju the day before, a 12-inning, 4-hour, 40-minute game that lasted until 11:10 p.m. The game was close throughout the three-game series against Doosan, especially on the 15th and 16th.

With two open spots in the starting rotation due to injuries to Will Crowe and Lee Yi-ri, the team was unable to utilize the pitching staff on a day when alternate starters were needed. It was a day where the pitchers had to keep the game close with as few runs as possible or lose the game.

They even lost starter Kim Gun-guk to a hamstring injury in the first inning. Kim Sa-yoon took over in relief. Kim gave up one run (unearned) on two hits and three walks in three innings. Yoon Joong-hyun pitched the fifth inning, followed by Kim Do-hyun for two innings in the sixth and seventh, and left-hander Lee Joon-young for one inning in the eighth.

The offense got on the board early. After a bases-loaded walk in the top of the third inning, Choi Won-jun hit a double, Na Sung-beom drove in a run with an infield grounder, and Choi Hyung-woo followed with an RBI single up the middle to score three runs and make it 3-1.

After giving up a run in the bottom of the third, KIA tied the game at 3-3 in the top of the fifth when Yoon Jung-hyun hit a solo home run to left off Davidson. Then, in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the bases loaded, they gave up a sacrifice fly to Park Gun-woo to make it 3-4. However, Kim Do-hyun struck out Davidson to prevent further damage.

Kia had a chance in the top of the seventh. After NC starter Kim Si-hoon was pulled after five innings and three runs, NC turned to its bullpen, and KIA tied the game at 4-4 in the top of the seventh when Park Chan-ho hit a double down the right field line with two outs against Kim Jae-yeol. Then, with runners on first and third, Na Sung-beom singled to center field against Kim Young-kyu to make it 5-4.

In the top of the ninth inning, Na added another insurance run. After leadoff hitter Choi Won-jun drew a walk against left-hander Lim Jung-ho, Na crushed a first-pitch slider right over the wall in left-center for a two-run homer to make it 7-4.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, KIA’s only remaining pitcher was Jeon Sang-hyun. Jeon, who hadn’t pitched since being hit in the leg by a Heredia pitch in the SSG game on April 10 and returned on April 16 against Doosan, where he pitched 0.1 innings and gave up two runs, was the only member of the Kia pitching succession not to start a game, so he was waiting in the bullpen.

Jeon retired the leadoff hitter, Oh Young-soo, on a fly ball to left field, Davidson on a grounder to shortstop, and Kwon Hee-dong on a fly ball to right field to 메이저사이트 end the game on 10 pitches. Lee Woo-sung made a leaping catch in left field that nearly went over the outfield fence.

Jeon Sang-hyun closed out the game with a perfect save as Jeong Jung-young, who was rested for the day, watched from the dugout. At the plate, Na Sung-beom came through at key moments, going 2-for-4 with two doubles (one home run) and four RBIs to lead the way.

Kia continued its run at the top of the standings with the crowning victory. The victory erased the tiredness and fatigue from the previous day’s extra-inning 12th inning tie.

Kia coach Lee Bum-ho said, “It was tough for the players because we played until the 12th inning and traveled away, but it was an important game, so everyone stayed focused until the end and we were able to win. The game was tightly contested. At every crucial moment, the bats came back to score runs, especially when the starter went down unexpectedly early, but the pitchers behind him did their job and secured the win. Thanks to the whole team for a great effort.”

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