Reckless bunt? KT Moon Sang-cheol made up for it with a final hit. “I’ll follow your signature from now on.”
KT outfielder Moon Sang-cheol, 32, made a bad judgment call during the Korean Series that resulted in a rare triple. But in his final at-bat, he came through with a big hit to win the game.
KT won Game 1 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Baseball Series against LG 3-2 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Sunday. The team got off to a great start, improving on the 74.4 percent (29-of-39) winning percentage of teams that have won the first game of the Korean Series in history.
Ko Young-pyo pitched six innings of seven-hit ball with three strikeouts and two walks, while Son Dong-hyun (two innings) and Park Young-hyun (one inning) pitched scoreless relief.
Moon Sang-cheol was named the Daily MVP (Most Valuable Player). Starting in the No. 7 spot in the lineup, Moon went 1-for-4 with a run and an RBI, including the game-winning hit in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 2-2.
“We could have won the game quickly from the beginning, but we had one or two misses that could have dragged us down,” said KT head coach Lee Kang-chul after the game, “but Young-pyo Ko showed his crisis management skills and Dong-hyun Son pitched two scoreless innings, so we were able to stay strong until the end.” “Sang-chul Moon’s long ball at the end gave us the win,” he added.
LG defeats Gisun with triple play. Yonhap News
There were also moments when the mood quickly sank. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the second inning, KT had runners on first and second with no outs when Moon Sang-chul failed to bunt and was tagged out at first to third for a triple play.
It was the first triple in the Korean Series in 19 years and the first time since Game 7 between Hyundai and Samsung in 2004. Back then, Yang Jun-hyuk (formerly of Samsung) hit a triple in the first inning. It was only the fourth in the entire postseason.굿모닝토토 도메인
“Who would have thought he was going to bunt there,” Lee said of Moon’s triple. “I actually didn’t sign for it (the bunt), but I think I was trying to get him to advance to tie the game quickly,” he said. “I told him to be aggressive, but he bunted unexpectedly. I was trying to get him to do what he does best, and everyone was surprised.”
If KT had lost, Moon would have taken some of the blame. “If we lost, I was going to say I told him to bunt, but we won, so I don’t think he’ll be too shocked,” Lee said. Moon had been to hell and back that day.
“Actually, I didn’t sign the autograph, but I wanted to equalize as soon as possible after taking the lead,” Moon said. “The game was not good, and the atmosphere was heavy,” he said, adding, “My teammates told me that if I hit one, I would have a chance, so I tried to forget about it quickly.”
Moon Sang-chul cheers. Yonhap News Agency
Moon struggled at the plate due to the pressure after the critical error. Nevertheless, Lee continued to trust him without replacing him, and he eventually hit a crown jewel in the top of the ninth inning against Ko Woo-seok.
Initially, Lee considered bringing in Kim Min-hyuk to pinch-hit for Moon in the top of the seventh inning with runners on first and second with the score tied at 2-2. However, Lee kept Moon Sang-chul in the game and brought up Kim Min-hyuk in place of Park Kyung-soo.
“I was going to use (Kim) Min-hyuk first, but the batting order behind him was not good, so I used Sang-chul and sent Min-hyuk out,” Lee said, “In the end, it was good to use Sang-chul.” As for why he didn’t replace Moon Sang-cheol in the ninth inning, he said, “Sang-cheol was strong against Go Woo-seok with three hits in three at-bats.” “For a moment, I thought I took him out, but I didn’t,” he said, causing laughter around him.
“Go Woo-seok is the best pitcher in Korea, so I was trying not to miss the timing,” Moon recalled. “After the second strike, I was ready for the fastball, and I set up a zone where I could hit it,” he said, adding, “When the ball came, I didn’t hesitate to hit it with confidence.”
“I guess you could say I’m emptied out (of my mind) because the result is good,” Moon said with a smile. However, he vowed to “bunt according to the sign” in his next game.