With a two-run lead in the bottom of the ninth… If it had been a long-haired closer instead of a 19-year-old rookie, would the ending have been different

A situation that required the concentration of short-term players and the operation of a bench. However, the choice of the bench left regret in the end. 

Lotte suffered a 3-6 defeat in the regular season SSG Landers match of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ held at Sajik Stadium in Busan on the 21st. With this, Lotte continued the momentum of the winning series and faced the losing series in about a month. 

It was a tough series for Lotte. They won 7-5 on the 19th, but in the match on the 20th, they suffered a complete defeat 0-5 as they were blocked by opposing starter Kim Gwang-hyun’s 6 innings, 9 strikeouts and no runs. The sluggish trend continued in the game on the 21st. 

On this day, too, SSG starter Kirk McCarty’s pitch blocked it, and no points were scored until the 5th inning. The batting line remained scoreless for 14 consecutive innings. And starter Charlie Barnes gave up the initiative by recording 4 runs in 5 innings, including 1 run in the 1st inning and 3 runs in the 3rd inning. 

However, in the bottom of the 6th inning, starting with Kim Min-seok’s double, Han Dong-hee’s timely double, and Yoon Dong-hee’s timely hit, they pursued 2-4. He failed to score an extra point and missed the chance to score 2 out and 1st and 2nd base at the end of the 8th inning, and the winning streak was gradually declining.

However, it was still within range of 2 points. Even if there was only one inning left and the batting line was sluggish, once the water was opened, the flow of the game could be changed at any time. That’s why it was important to block it without conceding in the top of the 9th inning.

However, Lotte Bench made a somewhat questionable choice here. Jinwook Kim, Sangsu Kim, and Seungmin Koo were all put in, and the next day was a rest day, but Kim Wonjoong, the finisher, did not come up in the ninth inning. Lefty Lee Tae-yeon came up. It seemed that the main purpose was to block the left-hander line leading to Choi Ji-hoon and Park Seong-han.

However, he gave Choi Ji-hoon a walk, and Park Seong-han was induced to ground the first baseman, but he was driven to second base. And it didn’t even work out. Choi Jeong also eventually gave up a walk, amplifying the crisis with 1 company, 1st and 2nd base. 

Shin Jeong-rak was warming up on the Lotte bench instead of Kim Won-joong. Wonjoong Kim sat down after running. Lee Tae-yeon continued to be on the mound, but could not overcome the Heredia at the plate. He was hit by Heredia with a 2 RBI double in the middle right. The gap widened from 2-4 to 2-6. It was a de facto wedge.  

Lee Tae-yeon treated Choi Joo-hwan with a ground ball to the second baseman and passed the ball to Shin Jeong-rak. The atmosphere had already passed, and the fans in the stands began to leave little by little. 안전놀이터

Lotte missed an opportunity to press a little more. Moreover, in the bottom of the ninth inning, the run in the ninth inning was even more painful as he got three walks in a row against SSG finisher Seo Jin-yong, creating a strange atmosphere with the bases loaded safely. In the end, Lotte was unable to pursue further, scoring only one point with Kim Min-seok’s sacrifice fly in the chance to safely load the bases. 

Although it is a result theory, Lotte’s choice was bound to remain regrettable. If Kim Won-joong blocked the two-point gap and went on to the bottom of the ninth, would the ending have been different? 

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