The fierce race for third to sixth place is starting to take shape, adding to the excitement of the end-of-season professional baseball.
The NC Dinos swept the LG Twins at home to clinch a postseason berth, while the Doosan Bears swept the Kia Tigers to move closer to the autumn baseball stage.
NC won 8-4 in the final game of the regular season against LG in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Changwon NC Park on Wednesday.
With the win, NC maintained its head-to-head advantage over LG, which clinched first place in the regular season, with a 10-6 record.
It also gave them their 74th win of the season (65 wins, 2 losses, 2 ties), securing at least fifth place and punching their ticket to autumn baseball regardless of the remaining schedule.
It’s been three years since NC’s first postseason appearance since 2020, when they won their first overall title.
NC took advantage of an error in the first inning to score five runs and take an early lead.
Jason Martin’s single and Oh Young-soo’s infield single put runners on first and third, and Kim Joo-won hit a pitcher’s choice to load the bases.
LG starter Lee Ji-gang then lightly tossed to first base, but LG first baseman Kim Bum-seok missed it, giving NC runners on second and third.
Kim Sung-wook hit a two-run double and Kim Hyung-joon followed with an RBI single to make it 5-0.
NC scored a run on Kim Sung-wook’s double in the third and two more on Park Min-woo’s RBI single in the fourth to virtually seal the win.
LG broke the silence in the fifth with Kim Min-sung’s eighth home run of the season, a solo shot, and scored three runs in the ninth with the bases loaded on Kim Bum-seok’s RBI double and Jeon Jun-ho’s infield grounder.
NC starter Tanner Tully picked up his fifth win of the season (2-2) with six innings of three-hit ball, two walks and one strikeout.
Kim Sung-wook led the offence, going 2-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs.
In Jamsil, Doosan pushed KIA to the brink and secured at least a share of fifth place.
Fifth-placed Doosan won 3-1 over sixth-placed KIA to extend the gap between the two teams to three games.
Doosan now has four games in hand and KIA has two.
If Doosan loses all of its remaining matches and KIA wins both of its matches, the two teams will be tied for fifth place with 73 points, 69 wins, and two draws.
In this case, the two teams will play a one-game ‘tiebreaker’ match to determine the winner of the wild card.
If Doosan wins just one game or KIA loses just one game, Doosan will qualify for the postseason.
Doosan’s victory was keyed by a strong performance from domestic ace Kwak Bin, who returned to the mound after a 25-day absence.
Kwak shut down the KIA bats in six innings, throwing 109 pitches with two hits, two walks, nine strikeouts and one earned run to pick up his 12th win of the season.
Doosan’s only chance came with two outs in the third inning.
After a walk by Heo Kyung-min and a single by Jeong Soo-bin put runners on first and second, Doosan took the lead on an infield single by Cho Su-hyun.
Kia second baseman Kim Sun-bin threw to the second baseman’s side of the infield, but the ball deflected off Kim’s glove, allowing the runner from second to score.
Jose Rojas followed with a two-run double to extend the lead to 3-0.
After replacing starter Kim Gun-gook with two outs in the third inning, KIA went all out, using five pitchers in a row, but could only muster a single run on Lee Woo-sung’s sacrifice fly in the fourth.
In Incheon, the SSG Landers capitalised on a late error by the Kiwoom Heroes to win 3-2 and stay in third place, half a game ahead of fourth-place NC.
SSG tied the game in the bottom of the first on a Guillermo Heredia RBI single and took the lead in the second on Choi Joo-hwan’s two-run homer.
Choi reached the 20-homer plateau for the first time in five years since 2018 (26) with Doosan.
After six innings of one-run relief from Oh Won-seok, Noh Kyung-eun, and Go Hyo-joon, SSG was held to one run in the eighth inning before bringing up Seo Jin-yong to close out the ninth.
However, Seo gave up the tying solo shot to Kim Hwijip one out later.
SSG clinched the victory in the bottom of the ninth inning after an error by Kiwoom’s first baseman Lim Ji-yeol, who hit Choo Shin-soo with the bases loaded.
After making a diving catch and struggling to hold on to the ball, Lim spilled the ball as he tried to get it out of his glove, recording his third error of the season.
With the win, Kiwoom ended the 2023 season with 58 wins, 83 losses, three draws, and a winning percentage of 0.4111. 토토사이트