Hong Chang-ki’s ‘God of Hitting’ mode + team’s 15-hit explosion… LG bombing SSG to dominate

Hong Chang-ki, who seemed to come out of nowhere with a magic bat, saved the day for LG. League leader LG continued its march toward the regular season title with two straight wins.

LG won 10-4 against SSG in the Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League 2023 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Saturday, led by Hong Chang-ki’s game-winning hit in the sixth inning after trailing 4-5. LG (72 wins, 47 losses and two ties), which won its second consecutive game following its victory over Hanwha in Daejeon the previous day (Nov. 15), extended its lead over second-place KT to six games and took a step closer to winning the regular season title. SSG (62W57L2D), on the other hand, lost its third straight game and dropped to fourth place behind KIA and tied for fifth with Doosan.

For LG, starter Casey Kelly, who was nearly flawless through the first five innings, fell apart in the sixth, allowing four runs on six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. However, the bullpen came through in a big way to preserve the lead. Kim Jin-sung, Yoo Young-chan, and Baek Seung-hyun took over.

At the plate, leadoff hitter Hong Chang-ki, who has been very strong against SSG this season, led the team with a 3-hit, 3 RBI performance, including the game-winning hit in the sixth inning. The top of the order was also active, with Shin Min-jae going 2-for-2, Kim Hyun-soo going 2-for-3, and Austin Austin going 2-for-4, while the entire team’s bats were strong, with Moon Bo-kyung going 3-for-1, Park Dong-won going 2-for-1, Park Hae-min going 1-for-2, and Moon Sung-joo going 1-for-1. LG finished with 15 hits on the day.

SSG, on the other hand, struggled as starter Oh Won-seok couldn’t get over the hump in the sixth inning, giving up five runs on nine hits with one walk and one strikeout in 5⅔ innings. He was followed by Ko Hyo-joon, who gave up two runs in ⅓ of an inning, and Choi Min-joon, who couldn’t do much at all, giving up two runs in ⅓ of an inning. At the plate, Choo Shin-soo had a hit and a walk, Choi Ji-hoon had two hits, Choi Joo-hwan had one hit and two RBIs, and Park Sung-hwan had two hits and one RBI, but they were outmatched by LG’s firepower.

Jamsil Jesus on the rise, Oh Won-seok ‘Goliath and David’ against LG

Coming into Jamsil off a 4-3, rain-shortened victory over Hanwha in the seventh inning in Daejeon the day before, LG was pleased to be able to pull off the victory without much of a bullpen drain. With a 5.5-game lead over second-place KT and a six-game lead over third-place NC in the regular season, LG calculated that it needed to win at least 14 of its remaining 24 games to clinch the championship, and planned to pitch its starters on four days’ rest.

LG’s starter on this day, Casey Kelly, had pitched unevenly through the middle of the season, but his recent form has raised expectations for the future. After a six-inning, three-hit shutout win over Lotte on Aug. 24, he followed that up with a six-inning, seven-hit shutout against Doosan on Aug. 31, and a seven-inning, eight-strikeout shutout against KT on Aug. 6.

In his last five starts, he has four quality starts (6+ innings or less) and a 1.80 ERA in his last five starts. In three games against SSG this season, he’s 1-1 with a 4.76 ERA, but in 16 career games against SSG, he’s pitched well with a 3.33 ERA, so there’s reason to believe in his recent uptick.

LG’s starting lineup wasn’t much different. Hong Chang-ki (right fielder) and Shin Min-jae (second baseman) set the table, while Kim Hyun-soo (designated hitter), Austin (first baseman), and Oh Ji-hwan (shortstop) formed the center of the batting order. Moon Bo-kyung (third baseman), Park Dong-won (catcher), Moon Sung-joo (left fielder), and Park Hae-min (center fielder) comprised the bottom of the order.

On the other hand, SSG, which took a 2-0 lead against Doosan in Jamsil on the 14th and lost the game after Seo Jin-yong gave up three runs in the ninth inning, took a day off on the 15th to regroup. However, the team was chased by Kia and Doosan and hadn’t performed well since August, so there was a sense of crisis throughout the team.

Starting the game was left-hander Oh Won-seok, who hasn’t shown the expected growth this season with a 6-8 record and a 5.48 ERA. Oh has struggled in his last five games with a 9.74 ERA, and in his two appearances against LG this season, he has been thoroughly underwhelming with a 12.60 ERA in two losses. In his 12 career starts against the LG, he is also 3-5 with an 8.29 ERA.

“Moon Seung-won (who was available for the game) was also weak against LG,” SSG manager Kim Won-hyung explained, “but we took into account that LG has a lot of lefties.” The batting order was Choo Shin-soo (designated hitter), Choi Ji-hoon (center field), Choi Jeong (third base), Eredia (left field), Choi Ju-hwan (first base), Park Sung-sung (shortstop), Han Yu-seom (right field), Kim Sung-hyun (second base), and Kim Min-sik (catcher).

Kelly’s streak continues, Oh Won-seok fights back… Hong Chang-gi breaks the tide

Kelly continued his recent good form. His fastball was around 150 kilometers per hour, which isn’t that unusual, but his three pitches – a slider, curveball, and changeup – kept SSG hitters at bay. His pitch selection was good and he had good angles on each.

Kelly was strong through the fifth inning, allowing just two hits. Conversely, he struck out six. Most of the SSG batters tried to hit Kelly’s changeup, but nothing really stuck. In the first inning, Kelly got Choo Shin-soo to ground into an infield single, struck out Choi Ji-hoon, and got Choi Jung to fly out to left field. Two batters later, he gave up a double to Park Sung-han down the left field line, but when Han Yoo-seom stepped up to bat, catcher Park Dong-won made the catch at second base. It was ruled an out after video review.

Meanwhile, LG took the lead in the first inning. The leadoff hitter was Hong Chang-ki. Hong led off with a clean single to left-center against SSG starter Oh Won-seok and then stole second base on a wild pitch. He then advanced to third on Shin Min-jae’s grounder to shortstop and scored on Kim Hyun-soo’s grounder to second to take the lead. The run went up without a hit.

Kelly retired Han Yoo-seom on a fly ball to left field, Kim Sung-hyun on a pitcher’s choice, and Kim Min-sik on a wild pitch in the third. In the fourth inning, he got out of a jam. After giving up a leadoff double to Choi Ji-hoon, Kelly got Choi Jeong to ground out to third to give himself a breather. He then gave up a hard-hit ball to Heredia to put runners on first and second, but he struck out Choi Joo-hwan on a slider again to end the inning with no outs.

However, LG was unable to create much of a rally against Oh Won-seok. LG batters didn’t get a single strikeout off Oh Won-seok until the fourth inning. They generated a lot of in-play hits. However, they struggled to turn them into long balls. In the bottom of the second, Moon Bo-kyung led off with a single to right-center, but was thrown out at the plate. It was an unfortunate play considering Park Dong-won followed with a single to left.

Following a triple in the third, Oh Won-seok worked out of the jam in the fourth to keep the score at one. But LG had Hong Chang-ki. Two batters later in the fifth inning, he stole second base with his foot after Park Hae-min singled to left. It was the second 20-stealer in a decade in KBO history. From there, Hong Chang-ki lined a single to right for a 2-0 lead.

From there, the LG bats started to lighten up. Shin Min-jae singled to left to put runners on first and second. Kim Hyun-soo followed with a single up the middle to score another run. This was the flow of the fifth inning for LG, as the pitches were not fast, but crossed the infield well and led to hits. The cleanup period began with LG leading 3-0.

SSG stormed back in the 6th, but LG had Hong Chang-ki in the bullpen.

But SSG, who had a lot to play for, wasn’t going to sit still. Down 0-3 in the sixth inning, they showed their focus and scored four runs in one inning to turn the game around. The SSG bats stood out.

In the first inning, Choo Shin-soo led off with a walk. He took a Kelly curveball and lined it into the left-field corner. Choi Ji-hoon followed with a single to right, putting runners on first and second. In the fifth inning, Kelly’s fastball, which had been nearly perfect until that point, began to struggle to find the strike zone, and Choi picked his pitches well to load the bases.

With the bases loaded, Heredia took Kelly’s first pitch high and made the most of it, lining a single to right field for a run. Choi Joo-hwan, who had struck out twice on the day, then came to the rescue. Choi, who has a particularly strong history against LG dating back to his days at Doosan, was working against a bad count, but he took five pitches and hit a two-run double to center field to bring in two runners and tie the game at 3-3.

LG brought up Jin-sung Kim for the second pitch of the inning, but SSG took advantage of Park’s forked pitch for an RBI single to right to take a 4-3 lead. After scoring just two runs in 18 innings in the previous two games, SSG broke the game open with four runs in the sixth inning alone.

With the rain expected to get heavier and heavier, LG fought back right away. Trailing 3-4 in the top of the sixth, Moon Bo-kyung hit a double down the right field line, and Park Dong-won followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Moon Sung-joo grounded out to the first baseman, but it didn’t lead to a run, making runners at second and third, and Park Hae-min drew a walk against the new pitcher, Ko Hyo-joon. Now at the plate was Hong Chang-ki, the team’s best hitter.

He took a three-pitch slider from Hyo-Jun Ko and lined it into the gap in front of center field for a two-run double to tie the game again. With three hits and three RBIs in his first four at-bats, Hong once again showed off his hot bat this season.

LG didn’t stop there. As Song was heading home, Hong Chang-ki walked, and with runners on second and third, Shin Min-jae hit a double to left field. It wasn’t a strong hit, but it sailed just over shortstop Park Sung-ho’s jump and into the outfield to make it 7-4. They made up for the four runs they lost in the top of the sixth inning, regaining a three-run lead and going on to win the game.

LG’s Pil-Seung-jo mobilized, and SSG crumbled helplessly under the pressure

LG was not without its own late-game crisis. Leading 7-4 in the seventh inning, Yoo Young-chan gave up back-to-back straight balls to Choi Hang and Choo Shin-soo, putting runners on first and second with no outs. He threw two balls to the next batter, Choi Ji-hoon, extending his streak to 10 pitches. However, he got Choi Ji-hoon to fly out to center field for one out and a breath of fresh air. LG then sent Baek Seung-hyun to the mound to start the bullpen.

Baek Seung-hyun gave up a single to Heredia two batters later, but struck out Choi Joo-hwan with the bases loaded to save his team from the biggest threat of the game. After missing this opportunity, SSG didn’t have the strength to go any further.

With a breather, LG added three more runs in the seventh to take a 7-4 lead. Austin led off with a double to right-center field. Realizing that one more run would likely win the game, LG ordered Oh Ji-hwan to lay down a sacrifice bunt, which he did, putting runners on first and third.

Moon Bo-kyung hit a double down the right field line to score a run, and Park Dong-won followed with a single to left-center to make it 9-4. In the next at-bat, Moon Sung-joo hit a triple to left-center field to complete the double-digit scoring. Center fielder Choi Ji-hoon tried to make a diving catch, but failed, allowing Moon Sung-joo to come home.

SSG had two hits in the eighth inning, but couldn’t capitalize. Seo Sang-jun shut down LG’s offense in the eighth, but the six-run deficit was too much. LG pulled most of its starters at the end of the game to prepare for the doubleheader on the 17th. SSG was unable to make a comeback until the very end and fell into a three-game losing streak.스포츠토토

After the game, LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop said, “Kelly had a difficult game as he walked Choi Jung, but he did his job as a starter, and although there was a big crisis in the seventh inning, Baek Seung-hyun handled it well and created a platform for the victory.” “I think that through the process of overcoming the crisis, Baek Seung-hyun has also developed into a player who can grow to the next level,” he said.

“In the offense, Hong Chang-ki led the overall batting lineup with a reversal hit and a good performance in defense, and Shin Min-jae hit an important double when we needed extra runs to bring the overall flow of the game,” he said, praising the tablesetters. “It was a seesaw game until the middle of the game, but the players concentrated and created a reverse win, and I would like to praise their concentration again. Many fans came to the game in bad weather and showed their passionate support, so the players could play a good game. Thank you.”

The two teams will play a doubleheader on the 17th starting at 2pm. The two games are crucial for LG to defend its top spot and for SSG to advance to the postseason. LG will start with Lee Jung-yong and Im Chan-kyu, while SSG will have Kim Kwang-hyun and Kirk McCarty spearheading the counterattack.

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