(ATTN: CHANGES top photo; ADDS bottom 2 photos, comments)
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, May 12 (Yonhap) -- The Kiwoom Heroes rallied to beat the Samsung Lions 3-2 on Tuesday for their sixth win in the first seven games of the new South Korean baseball season.
Starter Eric Jokisch gave up just one run on three hits for his first win of the season, while Lee Jung-hoo broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the sixth for the home team at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.
The Heroes are now 6-1, while the Lions fell to 2-5.
The Lions scored the game's first run in the top first, as Kim Dong-yub's single scored Kim Hun-gon, who'd reached second when center fielder Lim Byeong-wuk dropped a routine fly ball.
The Heroes tied things up with a solo shot by Park Dong-won in the bottom second, as he took starter Ben Lively over the left-center field fence for his first home run of the season.
The teams traded zeroes for a while. The Lions were unable to capitalize on leadoff singles in the second and the third. In that third inning, Park Hae-min singled to start the inning and then stole two bases to reach third, only to be stranded there when Kim Dong-yub went down swinging to end the inning.
Lively walked a tightrope. He walked one and hit another in the third, but escaped unscathed by retiring two dangerous hitters, Kim Ha-seong and Lee Jung-hoo, on a strikeout and a pop fly.
In the fourth, a hit-by-pitch, a steal and an error had a man at third for the Heroes, but Taylor Motter could only manage a grounder back to the mound.
The Heroes finally broke through in the sixth. Kim Ha-seong opened things up with a double down the left field line, just under the glove of the diving third baseman Tyler Saladino. Lee Jung-hoo then brought him home with a hard single to right.
The Heroes added an insurance run in the seventh, against reliever Lim Hyun-jun. Park Jun-tae got a one-out single off the new lefty, and then reached second when Lim made a wide throw to first trying to check the runner.
Seo Geon-chang's single up the middle cashed in Park for a 3-1 cushion.
The Lions rallied with a run in the top ninth off Kiwoom closer Cho Sang-woo, who survived some nervy moments and retired cleanup Lee Won-seok on a fly to shallow center for the final out.
"Our players are hitting with an extra focus with runners in scoring position," the winning manager Son Hyuk said. "It wasn't an easy game, and I think our ability to capitalize on our chances made the difference."
Park Dong-won, who has been splitting starting catching duties with Lee Ji-young, said it doesn't matter who's behind the plate, as long as the team wins.
"I may not play every day, but I know I have to stick with my routines," Park said. "The most important thing is to win games. And my home run wasn't probably that critical. Jokisch pitched a great game, and if I hadn't hit one out, someone else would have done it."
KBO club threatens legal action vs. league office over discipline of team exec
With new-look roster, coaching staff, Eagles hoping to fly higher in KBO
With seasons on hold due to coronavirus, baseball and football leagues moving in opposite directions
Ryu Hyun-jin to slide into No. 1 spot in thin Blue Jays' rotation
S. Korean MLB hopefuls face long waiting game amid uncertainty, mixed reviews