The Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) have lost four straight games, suffering an extra-inning comeback loss before the shock of the sweep had even worn off. The Giants dropped the first game of a six-game home stand that could prove to be a watershed moment for their fall baseball campaign.
Lotte lost 3-6 in the ninth game of the season against NC in the “Nakdong River Derby” at Sajik Stadium in Busan on April 1. The loss in the first game of a six-game home stand followed a three-game sweep at the hands of the KIA Tigers and snapped a four-game losing streak.
Aaron Wilkerson was the starting pitcher for Lotte. LOTTE took the pressure off Wilkerson in the early innings of the game as the bats came alive. In the first inning, NC’s No. 2 hitter Park Min-woo tried to bunt in front of the pitcher, and Wilkerson slipped on the mound. Third baseman Goodrum scrambled to his feet and threw the ball to first base to get the runner out.
In the second inning, the returning dugout leader Ahn Kwon-soo shined. Ahn caught a ball near the foul line hit by No. 6 hitter Seo Ho-cheol, crashing into the fence and drawing a huge ovation from the fans at Sajik Stadium.
In the third inning, shortstop Noh Jin-hyuk gave Wilkerson a boost. Noh made an easy catch on a straight pitch from NC’s No. 9 hitter, Kim Joo-won. Wilkerson applauded and expressed his gratitude to Noh.
Lotte scored three runs in the third inning to take control of the game. The offense started with Kim Min-seok. Kim batted seventh and drew a walk against NC starter Song Myung-ki. He reached second base on a stolen base. In the eighth inning, Park Seung-wook hit a big shot to the wall behind the right-field fence, sending Kim to third and creating a bases-loaded 1-3 situation.
The ninth batter, Son Sung-bin, drew a leadoff walk. Son brought home Kim Min-seok with a single between center and right field. Ahn Kwon-soo, batting first, then laid down a sacrifice bunt to put Park Seung-wook and Son safely at third and second, respectively.
Lotte veteran Jung-hoon turned his recent hot hitting into RBIs. Jung-hoon took a pitch from Song Myung-ki and hit a two-run double that landed just inside the left-field foul line. Lotte took a 3-0 lead.
Wilkerson gave NC a run in the top of the fourth inning. Wilkerson hit a fly ball to right field off NC’s Park Gun-woo, but the ball went high in the air and Ahn Kwon-soo missed the drop zone, allowing a second run to score. Wilkerson then gave up an infield single to Martin to put runners at first and third. Wilkerson gave up a single to Kwon that went through the shortstop’s side to give NC a run. NC trailed 1-3.
Wilkerson gave up another RBI single to Ho-Cheol Seo for his second run. Wilkerson gave up two runs on four consecutive hits. Wilkerson did not allow the tying run to score as he got Park Se-hyuk to ground into an infield single to end the top of the fourth inning with the score 3-2.
LOTTE tied the game in the top of the fifth inning, giving up two straight runs to NC. After giving up a walk to Park Min-woo in the second, Wilkerson gave up a big single to Park Gun-woo in the third that hit the wall behind center field. Lotte tied the game at 3-3. Wilkerson threw 95 pitches through the sixth inning, allowing three runs and six hits before leaving the game. Wilkerson left the game with the tying run in scoring position in his second KBO start.
Lotte brought in Gyetujo in the seventh inning, with Koo Seung-min taking the mound first. Park Se-hyuk singled and Kim Joo-won sacrificed him to second base with nobody out. Koo was hit in the right knee by a straight hit from Son As-seob and was in pain. Lotte manager Larry Sutton sent Kim Sang-soo to the mound in place of Koo Seung-min. Kim Sang-soo pitched a scoreless seventh inning against Park Min-woo with runners on first and third after a video review.
In the eighth inning, Lotte sent Choi Jun-yong to the mound, who had recently found his groove. Choi gave up a walk to the leadoff batter, Park Gun-woo. Choi got out of the jam by striking out the fourth batter, Martin. Choi then induced the next batter, Kwon Hee-dong, to fly out in front of the pitcher and then got out of the jam by striking out the side.
In the ninth inning, Lotte replaced the Choi Jun-yong and Son Sung-bin battery with Kim Won-joong and Jeong Jung-geun. Kim Won-joong got off to a good start by getting leadoff hitter Seo Ho-chul to ground out to the second baseman. Kim then struck out Yoon Hyung-jun and Park Se-hyuk in succession to leave the bases loaded with a 3-3 situation.
Lotte led off the ninth inning with a single by Jeong Hoon. However, Jeon Jun-woo’s outfield single and Yoon Dong-hee’s double ended the game. The game went into extra innings.
Kim Won-joong took the mound in the 10th inning. He got the leadoff hitter, Kim Joo-won, to ground out to the second baseman. However, Kim Won-joong gave up a single to right field. Kim Won-joong then got Park Min-woo to fly out to center field. The catcher then threw out Son Ah-seob, who stole second base, to end the 10th inning without allowing a run. Kim Won-joong pitched two scoreless innings in the ninth and 10th.
NC replaced him with left-hander Lim Jeong-ho in the bottom of the 10th. Lotte’s No. 6 hitter, Noh Jin-hyuk, led off the inning. Noh hit a big shot to left-center field, but it was a flyout.
Kim Min-seok led off the inning with a single that slipped past the shortstop. However, Kim Min-seok was thrown out at first base by Lim Jung-ho. After a video review, Kim was called out. Lotte was stranded with the tying run on base. The next batter, Park Seung-wook, was retired on an infield grounder, sending the game to the 11th inning.안전놀이터
Lotte sent Jin Seung-hyun to the mound in the 11th inning. Jin gave up a double to leadoff hitter Park Gun-woo. Park had four hits in the game. Jin Seung-hyun got out of the jam by striking out the fourth batter, Martin. After a 10-pitch battle with Kwon Hee-dong in the fifth, Jin gave up a walk and LOTTE had runners on first and second. Jin gave up a walk to Seo Ho-cheol in the sixth to load the bases.
Jin gave up a single to Yoon Hyung-jun in the seventh that sailed over the shortstop’s head. Lotte fell behind 3-4. Pitching coach Kim Hyun-wook replaced the pitcher with Shim Jae-min. The bases loaded crisis continued. NC added one more run on an outfield sacrifice fly by Park Se-hyuk. The score was now 3-5 in favor of Lotte.
Lotte didn’t get any luckier. NC’s Kim Ju-won got a lucky hit that landed in front of the right fielder. NC added one more run. LOTTE faced a 3-6 situation in the bottom of the 11th inning.
LOTTE kept the spark of a comeback alive in the top of the 11th inning when their leadoff hitter, Lee Jung-geun, singled over the shortstop’s head. However, the subsequent batters failed to reach base, leaving LOTTE with a 3-6 deficit.