SPORTS

Homers galore as NC Dinos push Lotte Giants to baseball postseason brink

By Yonhap
  • Published : Oct 12, 2017 - 09:30
  • Updated : Oct 12, 2017 - 09:30
CHANGWON, South Korea -- The NC Dinos beat up on the Lotte Giants 13-6 on Wednesday to move within a victory of advancing to the next round in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason.

The Dinos belted out five home runs in their home park, Masan Stadium in Changwon, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul, to take a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-five opening round. They pounded out 13 hits in the game.

Game 4 is back at Masan Stadium at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Third baseman No Jin-hyuk, who came off the bench in the third inning as a defensive replacement, was the unlikely offensive hero, going 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs, three RBIs and four runs scored.

Xavier Scruggs, Na Sung-bum and Mo Chang-min each added a home run apiece in the blowout.

The Giants eked out a 1-0 victory in Game 2 on Monday in a game that had no earned runs scored, but the clubs wasted little time getting on the board in this one.

The Dinos set the tone by scoring three times in the bottom first. After getting two quick outs, Lotte starter Song Seung-jun walked Na, and then Scruggs took him deep for a two-run shot.

No Jin-hyuk of the NC Dinos watches his solo home run against the Lotte Giants in the bottom of the eighth inning in Game 3 of the clubs` first round Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 11, 2017. (Yonhap)

Song then walked the next two batters before No. 7 hitter Kwon Hee-dong knocked in another run with a single.

The Giants responded in the top of the second against NC starter Jeff Manship. With the bases loaded, Shin Bon-ki's single brought in the Giants' first run, and Manship hit the next batter, Jeon Jun-woo, to force in another run to make it a 3-2 game.

The Dinos gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom third, when No, who replaced error-prone Park Sok-min at third base to begin the top third, hit a two-run home run for a 5-2 lead.

Song was done after three innings. He was charged with five earned runs on four hits, including two home runs, and three walks.

The Giants got two runs back as the Dinos took Manship out of the game and went to the bullpen to start the fifth inning. The Giants loaded the bases again and scored a run on a hit-by-pitch again -- this time, Lee Min-ho, the Dinos' third pitcher of the inning, hit Andy Burns -- to get to within 5-3. Pinch hitter Choi Joon-suk made it a one-run game with an RBI single.

But that was as close as the Giants would get in this one, as the Dinos blew the game wide open with a five-run fifth.

After a leadoff walk, Na sent a two-run blast to left-center field for a 7-4 lead. After two quick outs, the Dinos rallied again, loading the bases on two singles and a walk.

Kim Tae-gun's single plated two more runs, and Lee Ho-jun delivered a pinch-hit single for a 10-4 Dinos lead. The Dinos sent 10 batters to the plate in that inning.

The Giants had another bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth but failed to cash in this time. On a lineout to right field, Jeon Jun-woo tried to score from third base but was gunned down at the plate.

The Dinos touched the helpless Giants' bullpen for two more runs in the bottom sixth. With two outs, Mo smacked a solo homer for his second long ball of the series. A single and a walk put two men on board, and Son Si-hyun made it 12-4 with a single to left.

The Giants showed a bit of life in the top eighth, with Son A-seop launching a two-run home run to center field to cut the deficit to 12-6.

But it was No Jin-hyuk who put the finishing touch on the rout. With two outs in the bottom eighth, he pounded a solo shot to center for his second home run of the night.

No has four career home runs in 212 regular season games and one homer in four previous postseason games.

For the Giants, cleanup Lee Dae-ho had a team-high four hits in five at-bats, but failed to drive in a run.

Neither starter was effective or efficient in this contest. Song needed 70 pitches to get through his three innings, and Manship threw 83 to complete his four innings of work.

Manship gave up two runs but both were unearned, and allowed three hits and three walks while striking out five. He has now failed to get past four innings in second consecutive postseason starts.

After the starters' early departures, the Dinos used seven relievers and the Giants sent six pitchers out of their bullpen to withstand the pounding.

The Dinos will try to finish off the Giants Thursday with right-hander Choi Keum-kang, who was 5-3 but had a 7.33 ERA in 39 appearances.

He had better numbers against the Giants, though, with a 2-0 record and a 3.78 ERA in four appearances.

Hoping to stay alive, the Giants will send right-hander Park Se-woong to the mound. The 21-year-old enjoyed the best season of his career, with a 12-6 mark and a 3.68 ERA.

He was far stronger in the first half, when he was 9-3 with a 2.81 ERA, than in the second half, when he posted a 3-3 record and a 5.07 ERA.

Park made three appearances against the Dinos in the regular season and won twice with a 4.50 ERA in 18 innings. (Yonhap)