“I can’t calm down,” said NC Dinos head coach Kang Myung-ho, who has led the team on a winning streak.
“Park Gun-woo’s home run in the first inning set the tone for the game, followed by Shin Min-hyuk’s brilliant pitching performance in the second game of the 2023 Baseball Playoffs (PO) at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon,” Kang said at a press conference after the Dinos’ 3-2 win over the visiting KT Wiz.
“We had some difficulties at the end of the game, but we were able to win the game with all the players’ focus and defense,” he said.
After giving up two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a 3-0 lead, NC was faced with runners on first and third in the bottom of the ninth inning when reliever Lee Yong-chan allowed back-to-back singles.
After striking out the first two batters, Lee walked Choi Bae-dae on a high pitch and then gave up an RBI single to Oh Yoon-seok.
At this point, shortstop Kim Joo-won flew out and caught the ball to end the game. It was literally a dramatic diving catch.
“I thought it was a hit the moment I saw it,” Kang said, adding, “Kim Joo-won did a good job of positioning his defense and diving well.”
“The older brothers created a difficult situation, but the youngest, Kim Joo-won, led the team to victory,” he added.
Regarding the situation of sending Bae Joo-dae out on a high four, he said, “I thought Bae Joo-dae was in better batting condition than Oh Yoon-seok (who hit a grand slam the day before). At that time, it was the same situation with two or three outs or a run.”
He also explained the use of the bullpen. In the top of the seventh inning, after a fielding error put runners on first and second base, NC pulled Shin Min-hyuk and brought in Ryu Jin-wook.
After utilizing left-handed pitcher Lim Jeong-ho for the first out in the eighth inning, the team brought in closer Lee Yong-chan early to pitch the ninth inning.
Lee struck out three and walked none in 1 1/3 innings, but was shaky with four hits and one walk.
“We had to use Ryu Jin-wook and Lee Yong-chan to close out the game because (pitcher) Kim Young-kyu’s body wasn’t in the best shape,” Kang said, “and we had to keep trusting Lee Yong-chan.”
“Kim Young-gyu was not injured, but his velocity was decreasing, so we didn’t want to use him today,” he said, adding, “I’m glad the game turned out well.”
As for Lee Yong-chan, who has been faltering lately, Kang was not shy about explaining.
“I don’t think his pitches have deteriorated much, but I think he’s lost confidence due to the poor results,” Kang said, “I want him to show more strength as the older brother of the team.”
Regarding reliever Lee Jae-hak, who was hit on the back of the right hand by a hard hit in the third game of the semi-playoffs against SSG Landers on April 25, Kang said, “I received a report that he pitched normally in the bullpen,” and added, “If the starting pitcher has difficulties (as his physical condition has recovered), we will consider using Lee Jae-hak or Choi Sung-young.”
He praised starter Shin Min-hyuk, who pitched 6⅓ innings of one-hit ball with one walk and two strikeouts.
“I honestly didn’t expect him to pitch so well,” Kang said, adding, “He seems to be strong in big games.”
He also praised the battery, saying, “(Catcher) Kim Hyung-jun did a good job, which made Shin Min-hyuk shine even more.”
NC won nine straight postseason (PS) games from Game 4 of the 2020 Korean Series to Game 2 of this year’s PO, tying the KBO’s all-time PS winning streak, which the Hattae Tigers achieved from Game 4 of the 1987 PO to Game 3 of the 1988 KS.
If NC wins the third game of the PO on November 2 at Changwon NC Park, they will become the first team in the KBO to win 10 consecutive PS games.
“We don’t attach any meaning to it,” Kang said, adding, “We will do our best in every game to continue the record.”
“We will prepare well and finish the PO as soon as possible,” he vowed.
When asked about his starting pitcher for Game 3, he revealed “Tanner Tully,” and when asked if Game 1 starter Eric Peddy would be available for Game 3, he said, “I don’t think so.” 스포츠토토