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(LEAD) LG Twins beat Nexen Heroes to open baseball postseason series

All Headlines 22:46 October 13, 2016

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By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 13 (Yonhap) -- The LG Twins defeated the Nexen Heroes 7-0 to open the first-round Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason series on Thursday.

Leadoff man Kim Yong-eui had three hits and scored three times to pace the opportunistic offense, while starter Henry Sosa wiggled out of two bases-loaded jams in six shutout innings at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.

Though winning the first game in any series is considered crucial, recent history indicates the Heroes may still have hopes. The team that lost the first game still went on to win the first-round series in four of the past seven years. The teams will be back for Game 2 at 6:30 p.m. Friday, also at the dome.

The Twins drew first blood in the top of the first. Kim Yong-eui, the team's offensive catalyst all night, opened the game with a single off Scott McGregor, and reached third after a groundout and a single.

Kim Yong-eui of the LG Twins watches his double against the Nexen Heroes in their Korea Baseball Organization postseason game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Oct. 13, 2016. (Yonhap)

Cleanup Luis Jimenz hit a dribbler down the first base line. The ball appeared to be going foul, but first baseman Yoon Suk-min grabbed it right over the line. Jimenez was out at first but Kim trotted home to make it 1-0.

The Heroes wasted a pair of bases-loaded opportunities. In the bottom first, a walk followed by a pair of singles packed the bases, but Kim Min-sung grounded into a rally-killing 5-4-3 double play.

Three singles loaded the bags again for the Heroes in the fourth, and they came up empty-handed again, as Park Dong-won popped out to third and Lim Byeong-uk went down swinging.

The Twins made the Heroes pay dearly for those missed chances.

Kim stepped up with one out and men at second and third in the top fifth, and lined a double to left-center to open a 3-0 lead.

One batter latter, Park Yong-taik hit a sharp single to right, making it 4-0 Twins.

The Twins weren't done, as they put up two more runs on the board in the sixth.

Kim Sang-su, who relieved McGregor to begin the sixth, gave up a single and a double to the first two batters he faced. He then threw a wild pitch in the dirt to let in the Twins' fifth run. Chung Sang-ho then hit a sacrifice fly to left for a 6-0 advantage.

Another Twins' rally started with Kim Yong-eui's bat. He led off the seventh with a single, and came around to score on Park's single.

Park chopped one at shortstop Kim Ha-seong, and the ball took a funny hop and bounced over his head for an RBI hit.

It was all the support Sosa needed. The Dominican right-hander scattered eight hits across six scoreless innings. He struck out four and issued just one walk on 110 pitches.

Nexen starter McGregor was lifted after getting charged with four earned runs on five hits in five innings.

The Heroes tried to eke out a run in the bottom of the eighth, when they managed to get men on the corners with two outs. The best Park Dong-won could do was ground into a force out, and the Heroes bowed out without a run despite outhitting the Twins 11-9.

The Twins had to fend off the Kia Tigers in the nervy two-game wild card series, and manager Yang Sang-moon said the earlier experience was a great asset for his players.

"We're coming off pressure-packed games, and I think the players looked quite relaxed and comfortable today," Yang said. "I think that's why we were able to score when we needed."

Yang said he expects the bats to get even hotter as the postseason wears on, but insisted this was no time to celebrate anything.

"We have to forget about this game and get ready for tomorrow," he added. "I should tell them to leave the past behind them as fast as they can."

The Heroes will try to even the series with left-hander Andy Van Hekken on the mound. He didn't face the Twins during the regular season, but boasts a 12-4 record with a 2.58 ERA over his KBO career against them.

Van Hekken, 37, enjoyed four successful seasons with the Heroes, and left for Japan last offseason before rejoining the KBO club in July. He was 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA in his first six starts, but tired down the stretch, with a 3-3 mark and a 5.66 ERA in his last six starts.

The Twins will counter with sidearm pitcher Woo Kyu-min. He was 6-11 with a 4.91 ERA in the regular season, and also fared poorly against the Heroes, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA in two appearances.

This will be Woo's shot at redemption. When the two clubs met in the second round of the 2014 postseason, Woo made two appearances. He held the Heroes to two runs in five innings in Game 1, but was shelled for four runs in 1/3 of an inning out of the bullpen in Game 4.

Henry Sosa of the LG Twins pumps his fist after completing the sixth inning against the Nexen Heroes in their Korea Baseball Organization postseason game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Oct. 13, 2016. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
(END)

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