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Dinos beat Landers on road to open KBO postseason series

Oct. 22, 2023 - 21:16 By Yonhap
Kim Seong-uk of the NC Dinos celebrates his two-run home run against the SSG Landers during the top of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the first-round series in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

Riding strong starting pitching and timely hitting, the NC Dinos held off the SSG Landers 4-3 to begin their first-round series in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason Sunday.

Kim Seong-uk delivered a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, west of Seoul, backing a scoreless start by Shin Min-hyeok.

The Dinos added two insurance runs in the top of the ninth, and they all counted as the Landers made things interesting with a two-run rally in the bottom ninth before falling short by a run.

Game 2 of this best-of-five series is back in Incheon at 6:30 p.m. Monday.

In the best-of-five first round, the team that won the first game went on to take the series 71 percent of the time.

NC Dinos players celebrate their 4-3 win over the SSG Landers in Game 1 of the first round series in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Incheon, west of Seoul, on Oct. 22, 2023. (Yonhap)

The teams traded zeroes through seven innings. Landers starter Roenis Elias was a model of efficiency, needing only 66 pitches to get through six innings while allowing only two singles. Shin, in his first career postseason start, pitched around four singles before handing the reins to the bullpen with two outs in the sixth.

With the game still scoreless in the top of the eighth, the Dinos jumped out in front in stunning fashion.

With a runner at first, Kim Seong-uk came off the bench and knocked a two-run home run off Elias over the left-center field wall. It was Kim's third career postseason dinger but first as a pinch hitter.

The Landers cut the deficit in half with Choi Jeong's sacrifice fly in the bottom eighth. They stranded a runner at second when Guillermo Heredia struck out to end the rally.

The Dinos opened up a 4-1 lead in the top ninth.

Park Min-woo led off with a single and was sacrificed over to second base. Park stole third and came home to make it 3-1 on Jason Martin's single.

Martin himself stole second base and scored the Dinos' fourth run on Seo Ho-cheol's RBI single.

Those extra runs came in handy, as the Landers scored twice in the bottom ninth, courtesy of Ha Jae-hoon's two-run blast off Dinos closer Lee Yong-chan.

Lee, who has been shaky since the final days of the regular season, walked the tightrope before closing out the narrow win.

Kim Seong-uk, the unlikely offensive hero for the Dinos who had only six homers in the regular season, said he was always mentally prepared for pinch-hitting duty.

"I don't feel any pressure just because these are big games. I am excited to be playing them," Kim said. "It's not every day that I get to play in games like this. I've been trying to stay confident and I think it led to some great results today."

Reliever Kim Young-kyu was credited with the win after tossing 1 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Shin. Elias was the losing pitcher, though the two-run homer by Kim Seong-uk was the only damage done against him.

Shin said he was most pleased with how his changeup played against the Landers.

"I was only nervous this morning when I first arrived at the ballpark," Shin said. "After that, my nerves were mostly gone. I don't think I ran into too much trouble." (Yonhap)