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(LEAD) Right-hander twirls gem in postseason debut

All Headlines 19:12 October 29, 2017

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By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 29 (Yonhap) -- Kia Tigers' 24-year-old right-hander Im Gi-yeong made his postseason debut on the biggest stage of them all Sunday, and he came up huge for his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club.

Im tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings against the Doosan Bears in Game 4 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, as the Tigers won 5-1 to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven championship series. Im scattered six hits and struck out six in the win.

Im enjoyed a fine regular season, going 8-6 with a 3.65 ERA in 23 appearances while tossing two complete game shutouts. And coming into Game 4, he had some tough acts to follow, as Kia's Game 2 starter Yang Hyeon-jong threw a complete game shutout Thursday and Pat Dean followed with seven solid innings in a victory Saturday.

Im Gi-yeong of the Kia Tigers throws a pitch against the Doosan Bears in the bottom of the sixth inning in Game 4 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2017. (Yonhap)

Im pitched into the sixth inning and allowed at least a base runner in every inning except the third. But he got out of every jam thanks to an array of pitches that kept Doosan hitters off balance.

The Tigers quickly spotted Im a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, and the Bears tried to respond with a two-out double in the bottom first. But Im stranded the runner by getting cleanup Kim Jae-hwan to ground out to first.

In the bottom of the second, the Bears got a one-out single off Im, who quickly retired the next two batters with a strikeout and a groundout.

In the third inning, the Bears had two men on with one out after two straight singles. But Im struck out Park and induced another grounder off the bat of ever-dangerous Kim Jae-hwan.

Im had his first three-up, three-down inning in the fourth and found more trouble again in the fifth, when Nick Evans opened with a single.

Im made sure Evans never came home, with a strikeout and two straight groundouts.

He retired the first two batters of the sixth inning before Oh Jae-il hit a single to right. Oh reached second when right fielder Lee Myung-ki let the ball bounce past him, and that spelled the end of the day for Im.

Lefty reliever Sim Dong-sub walked the first batter he faced and handed the reins over to Kim Yun-dong, who retired Yang Eui-ji on a fly out to right field.

The Bears eked out a run in the eighth, long after had Im left the game, and the Kia bullpen took care of business to make the lead stand.

Im said afterward he wasn't the least bit nervous in his first postseason game.

"I had a lot of fun," he said. "I tried to stay aggressive from start to finish. And since I had my first career win against the Bears (in 2013), I was comfortable going up against them."

Im threw five different types of pitches at the Bears. Of his 81 pitches, he offered 32 changeups, 29 four-seam fastballs, 12 sliders, five curves and three two-seam fastballs. His ability to change speeds on both his changeups and four-seamers was the key in this gem.

Of the 17 outs Im made, six came from strikeouts and 11 were groundouts. The Bears didn't get one fly out against the beguiling pitcher.

"I tried to stay low in the zone and get as many ground balls as possible," he said. "It was kind of windy here today. And whenever I was on my game, I tended to induce a lot of groundouts."

Im Gi-yeong of the Kia Tigers returns to the dugout after completing the bottom of the fifth inning against the Doosan Bears in Game 4 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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