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By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, April 21 (Yonhap) -- With all the hype surrounding the schedule of the new season of South Korean baseball on Tuesday, there were actual games taking place on the field.
In the nation's capital, the LG Twins defeated the defending Korean Series champion Doosan Bears 5-2 to start the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) preseason.
It was one of five games scheduled across the league Tuesday, as all 10 teams got to face opponents other than their own teammates for the first time since the end of their spring training.
In light of the coronavirus outbreak, the KBO wiped out the initial March 14-24 preseason and postponed the March 28 Opening Day. Earlier this month, the league rescheduled the preseason to run April 21-27, with teams set to play four games apiece.
The KBO on Tuesday settled on May 5 as the new start date for the regular season, and it added three more preseason games per team.
All preseason games, plus the early portion of the regular season, will be played without fans, due to lingering COVID-19 concerns despite a recent decline in new cases here.
The Twins struck first against the Bears with Chae Eun-seong's two-out RBI single in the bottom first. They put up four runs on the board in the fifth, which featured Kim Ho-eun's RBI single and Kim Min-sung's two-out double.
Down 5-0, the Bears got a run back in the top seventh, as Oh Jae-won's single cashed in Oh Jae-il, who had hit a towering double to center field earlier.
Kook Hae-seong's solo home run in the eighth cut the deficit to 5-2, but the Bears could not get any closer.
Both managers, Ryu Joong-il for the Twins and Kim Tae-hyoung for the Bears, filled their lineups with regulars, with the Bears' former MVP-winning slugger Kim Jae-hwan being the only notable absence on either side. There are only six more games left before the regular season. That is not enough time for clubs to test young prospects, unless they were willing to sacrifice some playing opportunity for veterans in their buildup.
On the mound, the Twins' left-hander Cha Woo-chan struck out the side in the first as part of his two shutout innings. Ryu said Cha has been his best pitcher in spring and the 32-year-old could get the Opening Day nod in two weeks.
Right-hander Lee Young-ha got the start for the Bears, and he scattered four hits across three innings. The run he allowed in the first inning was unearned, as it was scored following an error.
Elsewhere in the league, the SK Wyverns beat the Kiwoom Heroes 6-3 in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, behind three home runs.
The visiting Samsung Lions beat the Kia Tigers 4-2 in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of the capital. Former major leaguer Aaron Brooks struck out four in four shutout innings in the losing cause.
The KT Wiz defeated the Hanwha Eagles 4-2 at home in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul. Rookie starter So Hyeong-jun tossed six innings of one-run ball for the Wiz.
The first four games started at 2 p.m. In the day's only 6 p.m. game, the Lotte Giants blanked the NC Dinos 8-0 at Changwon NC Park in Changwon, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Sidearm starter Seo Jun-won held the Dinos to one hit over five shutout innings, while new shortstop Dixon Machado went 2-for-3 with two RBIs at the plate.
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