Heroes reach Korean Series after eliminating Twins in KBO postseason
By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- For the first time in three years, the Kiwoom Heroes will be playing in the South Korean baseball championship series.
Former big leaguer Yasiel Puig homered and knocked in two runs as the Heroes defeated the LG Twins 4-1 to close out their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason series in four games and book a spot in the Korean Series.
Kiwoom starter Tyler Eppler pitched six gritty innings on three days' rest at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, helping the Heroes win three straight games after dropping the opener of this best-of-five series.
The Heroes will face the SSG Landers in the best-of-seven Korean Series, which starts Tuesday. The Landers received a bye to the championship round after posting the best regular season record. They will have the home field advantage at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, just west of Seoul, and will play five games there if the Korean Series goes seven games.
For the second straight game, the Twins scored the first run. They strung together three straight singles with one out in the top of the first inning against starter Tyler Eppler, the last of those being Chae Eun-seong's RBI single.
But the Heroes had the quick answer in the bottom first. They, too, scored with three consecutive one-out singles, as Kim Hye-seong knocked in the tying run with a bloop single to shallow left field against starter Casey Kelly.
After Kim stole second, Kelly intentionally walked Yasiel Puig to load the bases and set up a double play. Kelly didn't get the twin killing but retired the next two batters to prevent further damage.
But the Heroes went ahead in the bottom third, thanks to Puig's solo home run to straightaway center field. Puig had also homered off Kelly in Monday's game.
The Twins stranded runners in scoring position in the fourth and fifth innings, letting Eppler off the hook after two-out hits on both occasions.
After the teams traded zeroes for a few innings, the Heroes gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom seventh.
New pitcher Jung Woo-young gave up a leadoff walk and then committed an error on a soft comebacker to put two runners on. A fielder's choice groundout put runners at the corners for Puig.
Puig prevailed in an eight-pitch battle with a broken-bat single up the middle to give the Heroes a 3-1 lead.
Closer Go Woo-suk was brought in from the bullpen, and Kim Tae-jin greeted him by poking a single past the drawn-in infield for a 4-1 advantage.
The Twins threatened in the top eighth at one out with men at the corners, but cleanup Chae Eun-seong, facing new reliever Kim Dong-hyeok, bounced into a back-breaking, 6-4-3 double play.
Kiwoom closer Kim Jae-woong, less than 24 hours after recording a six-out save, pitched around a one-out double in the ninth for another save.
Both Eppler and Kelly pitched admirably on three days' rest, though Eppler got the last laugh after holding the Twins to a run on seven hits in six innings.
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