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(LEAD) Bears defeat Wiz to take stranglehold on KBO postseason series

All News 22:56 November 10, 2020

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

SEOUL, Nov. 10 (Yonhap) -- Cleanup Kim Jae-hwan had three hits and three RBIs, helping the Doosan Bears beat the KT Wiz 4-1 and take a stranglehold on their South Korean baseball playoff series.

The Bears have now won the first two games of their best-of-five, penultimate series in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. They can finish off the Wiz in Game 3 Thursday, back at the dome, and reach the Korean Series for the sixth straight season. They're the defending champs, with three of the past five titles in the bag.

Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears celebrates his RBI single against the KT Wiz in the top of the third inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

The Wiz wasted a leadoff double by Cho Yong-ho in the bottom first, as their three mashers -- Hwang Jae-gyun, Mel Rojas Jr. and Kang Baek-ho -- went down in order against starter Choi Won-joon.

That inability to score with a man in scoring position was the recurring theme for the Wiz in this game. They hit into two double plays and left eight men on base. They had at least one runner on base in each of the first five innings.

The Bears got the first run of the game in the top second, thanks to three straight singles against starter Odrisamer Despaigne, the third being Park Sei-hyok's RBI knock.

After Park's single, a sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third. Oh Jae-won hit a fly ball to left field for what appeared to be a certain sacrifice fly, with speedy Heo Kyoung-min coming down the line.

Left fielder Cho Yong-ho had other ideas, as he fired a perfect throw home to nab Heo at the plate and end the rally.

Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears hits a two-run single against the KT Wiz in the top of the fifth inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

After minimizing damage, the Wiz tried to respond in the bottom second but suffered some rotten luck as they failed to score despite loading the bases.

Three singles had the bases full for Shim Woo-jun, who hit a dribbler down the third base line.

Third baseman Heo Kyoung-min fielded and immediately stepped on the bag for the force out, and then the runner at third, Yoo Han-joon, was tagged out in the ensuing rundown.

The Bears went up by 2-0 in the top third, thanks to Kim Jae-hwan's RBI single.

The Wiz cut the deficit in half with one swing of the bat in the bottom third, with Mel Rojas Jr. smacking a solo home run off Choi.

Park Chi-guk of the Doosan Bears pitches against the KT Wiz the bottom of the fifth inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

It also knocked the Bears' starter out of the game. Then facing reliever Kim Min-gyu, the Wiz got a single and a walk to create more traffic, only to see Jang Sung-woo go down swinging for the final out of the inning.

The Bears opened up the game a bit in the fifth. Two singles and a walk loaded the bases and chased Despaigne from the game. With Yoo Won-sang now on the mound, Kim Jae-hwan smacked a single to center to cash in two runs for a 4-1 lead.

With neither Choi Won-joon nor Despaigne looking sharp, the Bears prevailed in the battle of the bullpens.

After Choi got the hook, Kim Min-gyu and Park Chi-guk combined for three shutout innings with four strikeouts.

Hong Geon-hui got the final out in the sixth and returned for perfect seventh and eighth innings.

Closer Lee Young-ha then worked around a walk in the ninth to pick up the save.

Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyoung said the victory was a total team effort.

"We'll try to go all in and try to finish this series in three games," Kim said. "The sooner we take care of this series, the better it will be for us (in the Korean Series)."

KT skipper Lee Kang-chul said not capitalizing on early opportunities was his team's biggest undoing.

"We kept it close, but when we failed to score early, guys started to press a bit," Lee said. "Ultimately, it's my fault to set the lineup that way."

Fans watch Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series between the Doosan Bears and the KT Wiz at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)
Mel Rojas Jr. of the KT Wiz follows through on his solo home run against the Doosan Bears in the bottom of the third inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)
Odrisamer Despaigne of the KT Wiz reacts after walking Oh Jae-il of the Doosan Bears during the top of the fourth inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization second-round postseason series at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 10, 2020. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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