The Kia Tigers of the Korean Baseball Organization kept their hopes alive for fall baseball with a dominant performance from Yang Hyun-jong.
Kia Tigers rode a no-hitter from starter Yang Hyun-jong and an explosive batting lineup to an 11-0 victory over the KIUM Heroes of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Kia Champions Field in Gwangju on Wednesday.
The win keeps sixth-place KIA in the hunt for a wild-card berth in the postseason, trailing the fifth-place Doosan Bears by just two games.
The game was close early. With the bases loaded and nobody out, Kia struck first when Kim Kyu-sung’s infield grounder was misplayed by Kiwoom shortstop Kim Hwijip, allowing two runners to cross the plate at once.
In the next at-bat, Kim Do-young’s infield grounder and Ko Jong-wook’s RBI single up the middle plated two more runs to make it 4-0.
After an error and a Socrates Brito single loaded the bases again, KIA scored two more runs thanks to a grounder to third base by Lee Woo-sung and a missed grounder by Kim Tae-gun, giving them a six-run “big inning” in the bottom of the second.
Kiwoom self-destructed with a fielding error, and KIA tacked on four more runs in the bottom of the fifth on a Kim Do-young single to center and a Socrates double.
Despite missing key hitters like Choi Hyung-woo, Na Sung-beom, and Park Chan-ho due to injuries, KIA pounded out nine hits and drew seven walks on the day, which allowed them to wreak havoc on the Kiwoom mound. Socrates led the offense with five hits and two RBIs, while Go Jong-wook and Kim Sun-bin also had multi-hit games.
On the mound, Yang Hyun-jong shined. Yang completely shut down the Kiwoom bats with his “salty pitching” that didn’t allow the leadoff hitter to reach base.
While 10 wins this year has been difficult to come by, Yang’s steady performance helped secure the win. Even after the game was heavily in favor, he took the mound and threw 97 pitches over eight innings, allowing six hits and no walks while striking out six.
With the Kia bats coming up big in support, Yang picked up his eighth win of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.68.
KIA also kept its hopes alive for fall baseball, as fellow top-five contender Doosan fell to the Lotte Giants 3-14 on the same day. While a postseason berth is now out of reach, the team will have to take all four of its remaining games and see how the third- through fifth-place NC Dinos, SSG Landers, and Doosan fare.
“If we do our best, our chances will come,” Yang Hyun-jong said after the game, “It would be a miracle if we made it (to the postseason), but if we still have a chance, we have to do our best.”
Yang Hyun-jong, who was expected to start the final game of the regular season against NC, was on the verge of a complete game victory, but was pulled from the mound after the eighth inning as his pitch count increased. It will be interesting to see how KIA’s struggles will end in the fall baseball season. 스포츠토토