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(LEAD) Doosan Bears rout NC Dinos to move closer to baseball championship final

All Headlines 23:05 October 20, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS details, comments)
By Yoo Jee-ho

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct. 20 (Yonhap) -- The Doosan Bears routed the NC Dinos 14-3 on the road Friday to move within a win of reaching their third straight championship final in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

Min Byung-hun hit a grand slam and the Bears put up a seven-spot in the top sixth at Masan Stadium in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul. They now lead the best-of-five second round series two games to one. The Bears pounded out 13 hits and drew eight walks.

Game 4 is back at Masan Stadium at 2 p.m. Saturday. The winner of the series will advance to the Korean Series, where the Kia Tigers, the regular season champions, are waiting. The Bears are the two-time defending champions.

Min Byung-hun of the Doosan Bears (2nd from L) celebrates his grand slam against the NC Dinos with his teammates in the top of the second inning in Game 3 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

The Bears scored first for the third straight game in the series, this time taking advantage of a throwing error by NC starter Eric Hacker in the top of the second.

With one out and men at first and second, Hacker fielded a comebacker but made a wild throw to second base to start a double play. As the ball rolled into shallow center, Park Sei-hyeok, the lead runner, came around to score for a 1-0 lead.

A follow-up single loaded the bases for Min, who swung on Hacker's first-pitch change-up and drove it over the right field wall for his first career postseason grand slam.

The blast made the Bears the first team in KBO history to hit a grand slam in two straight postseason games

The Dinos chipped away at Doosan's lead in the bottom second. Kim Tae-gun's one-out single brought in NC's first run. Kim Jun-wan then hit a screamer down the right field line, and the ball caromed off the glove of diving first baseman Oh Jae-il and rolled into right field, allowing another runner to come home to make it 5-2 Doosan.

Following a fielder's choice, a walk loaded the bases for No. 3 hitter Na Sung-bum, who went down swinging to end the rally.

The missed opportunity bit the Dinos in the very next inning, as Oh Jae-il's solo home run made it 6-2 for the Bears.

The Dinos tried to keep pace and loaded the bases again in the bottom third, as the first three batters of the inning reached on a single and back-to-back walks. But they managed to get just one run, on Kim Tae-gun's sacrifice fly with one out.

Ham Deok-ju of the Doosan Bears throws a pitch against the NC Dinos in the bottom of the fourth inning in Game 3 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

Whatever the Dinos did, the Bears had an answer. In the top fourth, Oh Jae-il picked up his second RBI of the game with a two-out single off new pitcher Koo Chang-mo, as the Bears went up 7-3.

A baserunning gaffe killed a potential Dinos rally in the bottom fourth.

After leading off the inning with a single, Park Min-woo was doubled up at first base on a fly out.

Following a routine catch, center fielder Park Kun-woo threw the ball back to the infield and second baseman Oh Jae-won bobbled it. Park, who was halfway between first and second, slid into second. But he never retouched the first base bag, and the Bears' infield eventually recognized the miscue and tagged out Park before he could get back to first base.

The Bears put the game further out of reach in the top sixth. After two straight walks to start the inning, Kim Jae-hwan drove in the team's eighth run with a double.

After another walk loaded the bases, Park Sei-hyeok, a backup catcher who replaced injured starter Yang Eui-ji in the second inning, brought home another run with a single.

Eric Hacker of the NC Dinos leaves the mound in the top of the fourth inning in Game 3 of the Korea Baseball Organization postseason series against the Doosan Bears at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

Things went from bad to worse for the Dinos. The bases remained loaded after a strikeout, and Oh Jae-won made it 10-3 with an infield single to first base.

Xavier Scruggs fielded the chopper as he charged forward, but he had no play at the plate and second baseman Park Min-woo was late to cover the bag at first.

The Bears were far from done. Lim Chang-min walked in a run to make it 11-3 and gave up a single to Min Byung-hun as the Bears went up 13-3.

Another single, this time by Park Kun-woo, put the Bears ahead 14-3.

In all, the Bears sent 12 batters to the plate and the Dinos' pitchers tied the postseason record with four walks in that inning.

Min had six RBIs for the Bears, and Oh Jae-il backed him up with a three-hit night. Park Sei-hyeok, the injury replacement catcher, went 2-for-3 and scored twice.

Both starters were wild throughout the game. NC's Hacker lasted only 3 2/3 innings and issued five walks while hitting two batters. He gave up seven runs -- one unearned -- on five hits, including two home runs.

His counterpart, Michael Bowden, wasn't that much better in his three innings of work. He allowed three earned runs on six hits and four walks.

No starter has earned a victory so far in this series.

Reliever Ham Deok-ju was credited with the win thanks to 2 2/3 shutout innings, in which he struck out two and gave up one hit. Ham's outstanding outing was overshadowed by his teammates' offensive outburst.

The winning manager Kim Tae-hyung said putting in Ham in the fourth inning was key.

"Bowden had decent stuff, but I think he felt some pressure," Kim said. "And sending Ham early in the game helped us a great deal."

With their backs against the wall, the Dinos will start second-year right-hander Jung Su-min in Game 4.

He was 1-1 in 15 apperances, with one start, and had a 6.75 ERA.

He has made two relief appearances this postseason. He faced the Bears once during the regular season, and gave up a run in 4 1/3 innings without a win-loss record.

The Bears will counter with left-hander Yoo Hee-kwan, who went 11-6 with a 4.53 ERA during the regular season. He had a 2-1 record against the Dinos in four regular season starts, and posted a 5.32 ERA.

Choi Joo-hwan of the Doosan Bears connects for a hit against the NC Dinos in the top of the second inning in Game 3 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 20, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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