The NC Dinos took one game with a beehive run that saw them play all three of their starters. They were unable to stop the falling HanYuSum, but the three starters were able to win their matchups against the best aces in the league. With super ace Pedi unavailable for the third game, the team secured two away wins.
NC won the second game of the semifinals of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ postseason at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, Korea, 7-3. With the victory, the team earned its second win of the series.
Song Myung-ki started the game for NC, which was supposed to be ace Eric Peddie, but he was hit in the right arm by a bat in his last start of the regular season and suffered a bruise. He had only pitched out of the bullpen the day before, on the 22nd, and was preparing to start Game 3. This meant that the team would need to utilize all of its starting options, including Song Myung-ki, Lee Jae-hak, and Choi Sung-young.
Song made history in 2020 when he became the first pitcher born in the 2000s to win six straight starts in the final game of the regular season to win the regular season title and the Korean Series. He contributed a lot to the overall victory.
This season, he split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen, posting a 4-9 record with a 4.83 ERA in 35 games (17 starts). Against SSG, he has fared relatively well this year, going 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA in 11 1/3 innings.
Before the game, Kang said, “I would be grateful if Song Myung-ki threw as long as possible, but there always seems to be a hump in the second meeting, and I think that’s when I’ll be worried,” adding, “But if it’s Song Myung-ki’s character, he won’t think about the big game and won’t be nervous. Today’s condition is the key. I think it will be the difference between victory and defeat depending on how he pitches,” he said.
In the top of the first inning, the bats took a three-run lead against Kim Kwang-hyun with a Martin double, Kwon Hee-dong’s RBI single to right, and Seo Ho-chul’s sacrifice fly to right field. However, in the bottom of the inning, Choo Shin-soo, the leadoff hitter, threw four pitches in a row and drew a straight walk. It looked like he would not be able to get a hit.
However, against Choi Joo-hwan, he gradually found his groove. He used a cutter for a strike and induced Choi to ground out to the first baseman, nabbing Shin-Soo Choo at second base. A reverse double play erased the runners. He then struck out Choi Jeong to end the first inning with three outs.
The Tigers scored in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead. The first batter, Guillermo Heredia, gave up a single to right, but Han Yoo-seom used his strength to get a swinging strikeout. Ha Jae-hoon followed with a grounder to center fielder Ya Eun for the second out, and Park Sung-ho flied out to left field to end the inning.
Song Myung-ki faltered again. In the third inning, he gave up a walk to Kim Sung-hyun, the leadoff hitter, and a straight ball to Kim Min-sik, putting runners on first and second with no outs. He got Choo Shin-soo to fly out to center field and then struck out Choi Joo-hwan again with a fastball for the second out. Choi got out of the jam with a six-pitch at-bat and a swinging strikeout to end the threat.
But the fourth inning wasn’t any easier. He gave up a leadoff walk to Eredy. He walked the leadoff batter for the fourth consecutive inning. He then gave up a 137-kilometer fastball to Han Yoo-seom on a three-pitch, one-strike count. Song Myung-ki eventually came off the mound after giving up two runs on three hits (one home run), three walks and four strikeouts in three innings.
After Song, Choi Sung-young took the mound. Choi calmed down the chaotic atmosphere after Han Yoo-seom’s two-run double. He struck out Ha Jae-hoon and Park Sung-hwan with consecutive swinging strikes to set the tone, and Kim Sung-hyun grounded out to shortstop to end the fourth inning without incident. “I had heard some things and was warming up as soon as I started the game,” Choi said. I’ve been throwing the ball since the third inning,” he said modestly, adding, “I don’t think it’s because of me that the game was calm because they have such a good offense.”
In the fifth, he walked leadoff hitter Kim Min-sik on eight pitches. Choo Shin-soo grounded out to the first baseman. Two batters later, Choi gave up a single to right-center to put runners on second and third.
The NC bench wasted no time in bringing in another starter, Lee Jae-hak. Choi Sung-young did his job with one hit and three strikeouts in 1⅔ innings before handing the ball over to Lee Jae-hak. Lee faced right-hander Choi Jung and got him to fly out to right field to end the fifth inning.
Lee got Heredia to ground out to shortstop to lead off the sixth inning. However, he gave up another solo shot to Han Yoo-seom, who gave up a two-run homer in the fourth inning. That gave them a slim 4-3 lead. Lee Jae-hak struck out right-hander Ha Jae-hoon before giving way to left-hander Park Sung-hwan. Lee Jae-hak also gave up one hit, but he pitched one inning of one-run ball with one strikeout and one walk before handing the baton to Kim Young-gyu.
Manager Kang Myung-hyun said after the game, “I wanted Song Myung-ki to go a little bit longer, but I thought we would have trouble in the middle if he went a little longer. I immediately put on Choi Sung-young and he pitched well. I think the set-up men did a good job in the middle. When I looked at Ha Jae-hoon’s record against him, Choi Sung-young was a little better, so I put him in.” “The center of SSG’s batting lineup seems to be Choi Jung. If you give him a big hit, you lose the flow. We are focusing our pitching rotation on stopping Choi and Heredia,” he said, explaining his pitching strategy.
In the end, the three starters combined for 5⅔ innings of four hits (two home runs), three walks, one hit 먹튀검증 batter, and eight strikeouts. They did what you’d expect from a four- or five-starter, and they took charge of a game and won it. They even shut down the opposing ace, Kim Kwang-hyun, and now head back to Changwon with two wins.
However, Eric Peddie, who was scheduled to start Game 3, has been ruled out with impingement syndrome. Tanner started the third game. With Peddie on the mound, the odds were stacked against him. However, he was able to get two big wins in enemy territory and return to Changwon.