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Lions prove 'it ain't over till it's over' in baseball

All Headlines 22:47 November 10, 2014

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- Somewhere on Monday night, Yogi Berra was smiling.

The former New York Yankee great, who once famously uttered, "It ain't over till it's over," would have been proud of what the Samsung Lions did against the Nexen Heroes in Game 5 on Monday in the Korean Series.

Cleanup hitter Choi Hyoung-woo hit a walk-off double with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, staking the Lions to a 2-1 win in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) championship series.

The Lions are now a win away from clinching their fourth consecutive Korean Series.

The Lions had struggled all night to drive in men in scoring position. They put two men on board in the bottom of the first but failed to score. Nexen starter Henry Sosa issued three walks but the Lions failed to take advantage.

Lions prove 'it ain't over till it's over' in baseball - 2

Trailing 1-0 in the eighth, the Lions loaded the bases with no outs, as reliever Cho Sang-woo completely fell apart. Closer Son Seung-lak then stepped up, and retired the next three batters on a pop-out and two groundouts.

The Heroes' players celebrated in the dugout as if they'd just clinched the championship. Little did they know what was to come in the final frame.

Son got the first hitter of the ninth, Kim Sang-su, to ground out to short. Shortstop Kang Jung-ho charged the ball and made a difficult running throw to get the speedy runner at first.

The next batter, Yamaico Navarro, also hit a grounder to short. It looked to be a routine play for Kang, until the ball ate him up at the last second for the dreaded "E6."

Son struck out the next batter to get a step closer to the save but then gave up a single to Chae Tae-in to keep the Lions alive.

Navarro moved to third on the play, and Chae was replaced by speedy pinch runner Kim Hun-gon.

Choi Hyoung-woo battled Son to a 2-2 count. Earlier in the at-bat, Choi chopped one down the first base line that barely went foul. Just when it seemed the Lions weren't going to get any bounces on this night, Choi sent a screamer past first base and down the line.

Navarro trotted home for the tying run, and as the ball dribbled to the deep right field corner, Kim sprinted around the bases and charged toward home. His head-first slide beat the relay throw home for the dramatic winning run.

This time, it was the Lions' dugout that celebrated.

"I knew I was going to have a chance, and I was confident," Choi said. "I wanted to end the game, and I got the pitch I was looking for. Hopefully, we can finish off the series tomorrow."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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