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Postseason starters put on memorable shows

All Headlines 22:38 October 21, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- Both starting pitchers in the opener of the second playoff round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) put on memorable shows Friday, as they took turns at escaping one jam after another.

The NC Dinos walked off on the LG Twins 3-2 to lead the best-of-five series, and despite their sterling efforts, neither starter, Henry Sosa of the Twins and Eric Hacker of the Dinos, got a decision.

Sosa held the Dinos to five hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings, while striking out six and walking none. He was in line for his second straight postseason victory, but his bullpen blew a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the ninth.

Hacker matched Sosa pitch for pitch, and actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He came undone by long balls, however, as Luis Jimenez and Chung Sang-ho each hit a solo home run in the seventh and eighth, respectively.

He struck out five and walked two in seven-plus innings.

Henry Sosa of the LG Twins throws a pitch against the NC Dinos in their Korea Baseball Organization postseason game at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Korea, on Oct. 21, 2016. (Yonhap)

The two right-handers traded zeroes on the board but did face some dangerous moments along the way.

Hacker issued two straight walks with one out in the second but escaped the jam by inducing an inning-ending double play off the bat of Jeong Seong-hoon.

He nailed Lee Chun-woong to open the fourth inning but worked around it with a pair of strikeouts.

The Twins didn't get their first hit off Hacker until a two-out single by Lee Chun-woong in the sixth. Then Park Yong-taik took Hacker for a ride to deep center, but his fly was caught at the wall.

The Twins finally got to Hacker in the seventh, with Jimenez pouncing on a 1-2 cutter for a solo shot. In the next inning, Chung also hit a cutter for a solo home run of his own, and that was it for Hacker.

Sosa himself had an adventurous outing, and he was just as effective in dodging bullets.

After retiring the first seven batters of the game, Sosa gave up a double to NC's No. 8 hitter, Son Si-heon, in the bottom third. But Sosa promptly sat down the next two to close out the frame.

Sosa gave up consecutive singles at the start of the fourth but quickly struck out cleanup Kwon Hui-dong. Sosa then got Park Sok-min to hit a weak grounder to third, and the ensuing rundown nabbed Na Sung-bum, who tried to come home from third.

Cho Young-hun flied out to center for the inning's final out.

In the bottom fifth, Sosa allowed Kim Seong-uk to reach with an infield single. A sacrifice bunt moved Kim to second, but he would remain there, as Sosa got a flyout and a strikeout against the next two hitters.

Sosa left the game with one out in the seventh, having hit a batter and given up a single. Jeong Chan-heon then cleaned up the mess by getting a double play ball off the bat of Son Si-heon.

Eric Hacker of the NC Dinos throws a pitch against the LG Twins in their Korea Baseball Organization postseason game at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Korea, on Oct. 21, 2016. (Yonhap)

It was Sosa's second straight scoreless start in the postseason. He tossed six shutout innings against the Nexen Heroes in the previous round.

Even though he didn't get a win, Hacker still took a major step toward exorcising his postseason demons. He had lost all three of his previous postseason starts, with a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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