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(LEAD) Opportunistic NC Dinos one win away from reaching S. Korean baseball final

All Headlines 23:07 October 21, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS details)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- Powered by an opportunistic offense, the NC Dinos moved to a win away from reaching the championship final in South Korean baseball on Wednesday.

The Dinos hammered the Doosan Bears 16-2 on the road at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, and outhit the Bears 19-3 to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five playoff series in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

Game 4 is back at Jamsil at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. A victory will send the Dinos, in their third KBO season, to the Korean Series for the first time.

The Samsung Lions, which have won the Korean Series in each of the past four years, will be waiting, after their fifth straight pennant gave them the bye to the final.

NC's starter Son Min-han, at 40 years, nine months and 19 days, became the oldest starter to win a KBO playoff game, after limiting the Bears to a pair of runs -- one of them unearned -- on three hits in five innings. He left the game after making two pitches in the sixth inning with a blister on his right middle finger.

The Dinos, which managed just two runs on nine hits in the first two games, got on the board first. Park Min-woo led off the game with a double off the left field wall and stole third before coming home on a sacrifice fly by Na Sung-bum.

The Bears tried to answer in the bottom half of the inning. They loaded the bases with two outs, following two straight walks issued by Son Min-han, but Choi Joo-hwan lined out to second to kill the threat.

The Bears went ahead by scoring twice with two outs in the bottom second. After Choi Jae-hoon lined a two-out single, Jung Soo-bin hit a game-tying triple to right center.

Hur Kyoung-min then hit a sharp grounder to second. Park Min-woo made a nifty catch sliding to his right but made an errant throw to first, allowing Jung to score for a 2-1 lead.

Only a fine diving stab by third baseman Ji Seok-hun on Min Byung-hun's hard grounder prevented further trouble for the Dinos.

After escaping the bottom second, the Dinos put up four runs in the top third on six singles.

They opened the inning with back-to-back singles. After No. 3 hitter Na Sung-bum flied out to right, cleanup Eric Thames singled up the middle to make it a 2-2 game.

The hit chased Doosan starter Yoo Hee-kwan from the game. The postseason woes continued for the soft-tossing left-hander, who needed 63 pitches to retire seven batters and was tagged for four earned runs on six hits.

Facing right-hander Noh Kyung-eun, the relentless Dinos produced three straight RBI singles to open up a 5-2 lead, with Lee Ho-jun, Lee Jong-wook and Son Si-heon doing the damage at the plate.

The Dions then broke the game wide open with a five-run seventh. After a single, a walk and a hit-by-pitch loaded the bases, Son Si-heon drew a bases-loaded walk for a 6-2 lead.

Shortstop Kim Jae-ho then had a pop fly to shallow left center go off his glove, letting in another run for the Dinos.

Kim Tae-gun drew another bases-loaded walk for an 8-2 cushion. Park Min-woo then lashed a two-run single to right, putting the Dinos up 10-2.

The Dinos kept piling on, adding three runs in the top eighth on a pair of RBI singles and a bases-loaded walk. Then in the ninth, Choi Jae-won hit a solo home run and Noh Jin-hyeok added a two-run shot to round out the scoring.

For the Dinos, Park Min-woo, making his first start at the leadoff spot in this series, went 3-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs scored. Cleanup Eric Thames also had three hits, while scoring three times and drawing two walks.

Son Si-heon, a former All-Star shortstop for Doosan, went 4-for-5 with three RBIs against his former team.

The Bears eked out just three hits in this game, and none after two outs in the second inning.

The Bears will look to their No. 1 starter Dustin Nippert to keep their season alive in Game 4. Nippert will pitch on a three days' rest, after throwing a complete game shutout in Game 1 on Sunday. He made 114 pitches in that outing.

The Dinos will also bring back their Game 1 starter, Eric Hacker, on short rest. Hacker lasted only four innings, giving up four runs on six hits, but threw just 66 pitches.


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