A 30-hit blowout. It was a one-run victory that came with the bases loaded in the eighth and ninth innings. Before the thrilling victory could sink in, the SSG locker room erupted in cheers. Only after confirming that their top rival LG had lost the game did the SSG players grab their bags and head for the bus.
SSG won a hard-fought 8-7 victory over Samsung in Daegu on April 26. The game was a back-and-forth affair with 30 hits (12 for SSG and 18 for Samsung) from both teams. SSG had the last laugh in a game that took four hours and three minutes, including nine minutes of the fifth inning (8:08-17 p.m.) that was suspended due to rain. The game ended at 10:32pm.
SSG’s foreign pitcher, Kirk McCarty, who was making his 34th day back from a forearm injury, was pulled early after giving up three runs (two earned) on 56 pitches in 2 1/3 innings. The bullpen was called upon early, as it was difficult for the pitcher to go the distance, and from the third inning onward, Noh Kyung-eun (2⅔ innings), Ko Hyo-joon (⅔ innings), Moon Seung-won (1⅓ innings), and Seo Jin-yong (2 innings) were used.
They gave up four runs in the sixth inning to tie the game at 7-7, but regained the lead in the seventh on a sacrifice fly by Park Sung-hyun, and then preserved the one-run lead with a two-inning save by closer Seo Jin-yong, who came on with runners on first and second in the eighth. In the ninth inning, back-to-back hits put runners on first and second with no outs, but Seo’s crisis management skills allowed him to finish the game without allowing a run.
“My coaches told me that I could go up in the eighth inning, so I had been preparing since the seventh inning. The way the game was going, I came up quickly, but I was in good shape because I had four days off.”
After his two-inning save against the Gwangju Kia on October 10, 2020, Seo said, “It’s been a long time since I had a six-out save. I was a little more nervous than usual. My legs were shaking even before I got on the mound. I was nervous because there was a lot of pressure to finish the game by the ninth inning,” he said, adding that he instinctively caught a straight hit below the knees of the last batter, Kim Sung-yoon, with two outs in the ninth inning. “I thought I had to drop my glove in front of the ball, whether it hit my hand or my arm, but the ball went inside. It felt great to catch it, and I raised my arm without realizing it.”
Shortly after Seo finished his interview, the SSG locker room suddenly erupted in cheers from the players. It was 10:47 p.m., the end of the LG-KT game in Suwon. It was the moment LG lost 3-4 in 12 extra innings. LG lost the game in the 12th inning when closer Ko Woo-seok was hit by KT’s Moon Sang-chul with the bases loaded. Moon Sang-chul’s hard-hit ball was thrown backwards by LG third baseman Moon Bo-kyung, ending the game 꽁머니지급.
At 10:32 p.m., the SSG players celebrated their victory over Samsung with victory high-fives, then packed up in the locker room to watch the LG game, which wasn’t over yet. After sharing the joy of victory on the field, they celebrated again just 15 minutes later. With smiles on their faces, veteran players like Kim Kang-min and Choi Jeong shouted “Go home” and walked out of the locker room with light steps.
Even though it’s not the end of the season, the teams are still competing for the top spot, so they can’t help but care about each other’s results. LG, which has held the top spot for a month since the 27th of last month, dropped a season-high five straight games with the loss, while second-place SSG, which went 2-1 in the second half, pulled back to within 0.5 games. The gap between the two teams, which was 2.5 games at the end of the first half, has narrowed in the first six days of the second half.