‘I threw a game on the first day of the Chuseok holiday’ leader LG, white flag from the 5th inning due to Samsung’s onslaught…”I’ve been waiting for 737 days.” Choi Chaeheung’s first win.

The Samsung Lions put the chili pepper on the LG Twins as they tried to cut into their magic number of first-place finishes.

Samsung won the season finale of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against LG 11-1 on April 28 at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. Samsung finished the season with a 6-10 record against LG. The ninth-ranked Samsung continued its quest to avoid last place with a season record of 55 wins, 75 losses, and one tie, while the first-ranked LG ended its four-game winning streak and improved its season record to 80 wins, 49 losses, and two ties. The magic number to clinch first place remains at six.

Starting lineups

Samsung: Ryu Ji-hyeok (second base)-Kim Hyun-joon (center field)-Koo Ja-uk (left field)-Jose Pirela (right field)-Oh Jae-il (designated hitter)-Lee Jae-hyun (shortstop)-Lee Sung-kyu (first base)-Kim Young-woong (third base)-Lee Byung-heon (catcher). Starting pitcher Choi Chae-heung.

LG: Hong Chang-ki (right fielder), Park Hae-min (center fielder), Kim Hyun-soo (designated hitter), Kim Min-sung (first baseman), Oh Ji-hwan (shortstop), Son Ho-young (third baseman), Park Dong-won (catcher), Lee Jae-won (left fielder), Shin Min-jae (second baseman). Starting pitcher Lee Jung-yong.

Choi Chae-heung ⓒ Samsung Lions

737 days of waiting…Choi Chae-heung gets his first win of the season after leaving the military

Samsung starting pitcher Choi Chae-heung waited a whopping 737 days to get his first win of the season. Choi threw six innings and 94 pitches, allowing one run (unearned) on six hits and one walk while striking out four to earn his first win of the season. It was 737 days since his last start against the Sasik Lotte Giants on September 21, 2021 (6⅓ innings, 4 runs), and 698 days since his last save against the Changwon NC Dinos on October 30, 2021 (4⅓ innings, no runs).

Most importantly, it was the first win of the season. Choi’s return to Samsung after his retirement from Commerce was highly anticipated, as he made his first roster appearance on June 13. Samsung head coach Park Jin-man had hoped that Choi’s inclusion in the starting lineup would solidify the domestic lineup, but the results have been disappointing. Prior to this day, Choi had suffered seven losses in 14 games with an ERA of 7.38 in 57⅓ innings pitched. He had only one quality start.

But this day was different. He didn’t back down against the top-ranked LG bats. LG is also the only team Choi has thrown a no-hitter against this year. In one game, he pitched 5⅓ scoreless innings. It was a confident performance.

While Choi was on the mound, the offense took a huge load off his shoulders, supporting him with 11 runs. He threw a mix of fastballs (31), sliders (34), changeups (19), and curves (10), with his fastball topping out at 142 mph. His slider ranged from 122 to 136 kilometers per hour, his changeup from 119 to 127 kilometers per hour, and his curveball from 107 to 113 kilometers per hour.

The only time Choi allowed LG to close the gap was in the bottom of the fifth inning when they led 9-0. He could have pitched a no-hitter if he hadn’t allowed leadoff hitter Kim Ki-yeon to reach on a throwing error by the third baseman. With one out, Seo Gun-chang singled to right and Ahn Ik-hoon lined a single to left field to make it 9-1, but the score remained comfortable. Choi Seung-min flied out to left field and Kim Hyun-soo pinch-hitter Moon Sung-joo grounded out to the first baseman to prevent further runs.

Lee Jung-yong ⓒKyun Hye-mi Reporter

Son Ju-young ⓒKyung Hye-mi Reporter

Ryu Ji-hyeok starts the inning with a single ⓒ Samsung Lions

Lee Jung-yong→Son Joo-young ravage LG’s mound…Samsung completes its first complete-game sweep of the season

Samsung’s bats took advantage of the early opportunity to ravage the LG mound. LG starter Lee Jung-yong was knocked out after 3⅓ innings of 81 pitches, 9 hits, no walks, and 7 runs. He was literally pummeled, and it was no different for Son Joo-young, who followed. He gave up four runs on 59 pitches, six hits, two walks, and one strikeout in 2 1/3 innings. The early collapse of Lee Jung-yong and Son Joo-young made it difficult for Samsung to turn the tide of the game.

Lee Jung-yong fell apart from the start. After Ryu Ji-hyuk led off the first inning with a single to right, Kim Hyun-joon followed with a triple to right field for a 1-0 lead. Koo Ja-rook followed with a single to right to make it 2-0, and Pirela continued his hitting streak, but was unable to score.안전놀이터

In the top of the fourth inning, the Dodgers scored seven runs to break LG’s morale. Leadoff hitter Oh Jae-il doubled to right-center field, and a batter later, Lee Sung-kyu doubled down the left-field line to make it 3-0. Kim Young-woong extended the lead to 4-0 with a double to the right side of the infield, and Lee Byung-heon followed with a single to put runners on first and third. Ryu Ji-hyeok followed with an RBI single to right to make it 5-0, forcing Lee Jung-yong off the mound.

The Samsung bats continued to chase LG reliever Son Joo-young. With runners on first and second, Koo lined a single to left to make it 6-0. Pirela followed with a single up the middle to make it 7-0. With two outs and runners on first and second, Oh Jae-il walked and Samsung manager Park Jin-man had the luxury of pulling out his pinch-hitter, Ahn Joo-hyung.

Lee Jae-hyun completed Samsung’s first hit-by-pitch of the season with a two-run double to left center to extend the lead to 9-0. It was Samsung’s first hit of the season, the 30th in the KBO this year and the 1075th of his career.

LG’s defense in the top of the fifth inning, and the team virtually threw the game.

LG quickly pulled away from the nine-point deficit. In the top of the fifth inning, they made a number of changes to their lineup. They replaced Oh Ji-hwan, who had singled in the fourth inning, with Kim Joo-sung, who had already pinch-hit. Ahn Ik-hoon replaced Hong Chang-ki in right field, Choi Seung-min replaced Park Hae-min in center field, Seo Gun-chang replaced Shin Min-jae at second base, and Kim Ki-yeon replaced Park Dong-won at catcher. Kim Joo-sung remained at shortstop, while Jeong Joo-hyun, who had pinch-hit for Son Ho-young in the top of the fourth inning, moved to third base. Kim Min-sung moved from first base to third base when Jeong came in and then back to first base.

LG had a big smile on their face as they took both games of a doubleheader against the second-place KT Wiz on the 27th, but the players were exhausted. On this day, the team paid more attention to managing their stamina by leaving training to their own devices or giving them rest. In the midst of this, Samsung’s starting pitcher Choi Chae-heung was not easily targeted by the batters, and the mound collapsed, so he quickly threw the game.

LG manager Yeom Kyung-yeop made a quick decision in a moment that required calm judgment. However, the disappointment was even greater than usual as LG fans filled the stadium for the Chuseok holiday. The number of spectators at Jamsil Baseball Stadium on that day was 21,057. The LG home fans, who filled the first-base bleachers, continued to cheer despite the deficit, but after the eighth inning, when the color of defeat deepened, they packed up and left the stadium one by one. After the ninth inning, there were even more empty seats.

Samsung scored two runs in the top of the sixth inning…completely breaking LG’s will to catch up

The top of the sixth inning started with a 9-1 deficit after Ahn Ik-hoon’s RBI single in the fifth inning. Samsung scored two more runs to put an end to any last-ditch effort by LG. Pirela and Ahn Ju-hyung followed with back-to-back singles to put runners on first and third with no outs. Lee Jae-hyun fouled out to the catcher to put runners on first and third, but Lee Sung-gyu hit a single to left to make it 10-1.

With runners on first and second, Kim Young-woong persistently drew a walk, forcing LG to use up its bullpen. LG switched from Son Ju-young to Lee Woo-chan on the mound. With the bases loaded, Lee hit a sacrifice fly to center field to extend the lead to 11-1.

After starter Choi Chae-heung tossed six innings of one-run (unearned) relief, the bullpen took over. Choi Ji-kwang (1 inning), Noh Gun-woo (1 inning), and Kim Seo-joon (1 inning) followed with scoreless innings to preserve the win.

At the plate, Pirela, the No. 4 hitter, went 3-for-5 with a home run, an RBI and two runs scored, while Koo, the No. 3 hitter, went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBI. Sixth baseman Lee Jae-hyun and seventh baseman Lee Sung-kyu provided a spark in the bottom of the order with two hits apiece, while first baseman Ryu Ji-hyuk had a two-hit game (one RBI and two runs scored).

Coach’s comments

Coach Park Jin-man said after the game, “The batters did a good job of preparing for the opponent’s lineup, and we were able to run the game somewhat comfortably by leading an active offense early on. Congratulations to Choi Chae-heung for finally getting his first win since being discharged from the military, and we look forward to him continuing to show solid performances like today’s (28th) until the end of the season.”

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