LG Twins captain Oh Ji-hwan literally “dominated” Game 3 of the Korean Series. He may have had his head down with a costly error, but he also saved his team from the brink.
In Game 3 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Postseason Korean Series (best-of-seven, KT-LG 1 game) against KT Wiz at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, South Korea, on Tuesday, Oh went 2-for-5 with a double, home run, three RBIs, and a run scored to lead LG to an 8-7 victory. He was named the Daily MVP of Game 3 and took home 1 million won.
LG jumped out to an early lead with a three-run homer by No. 4 hitter Austin Dean in the top of the third inning. Although starter Lim Chan-kyu gave up a run to KT in the bottom of the third, veteran right-hander Kim Jin-sung worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the top of the fourth to take a 3-1 lead.
But in the bottom of the fifth inning, the defense gave both Oh and LG a nightmare. With the bases loaded and one out, pitcher Jung Woo-young induced an infield grounder to Jang Jang-woo that looked like it would end the inning, but the trusted Oh Ji-hwan made an error.
Oh dared to dash at the ball, but couldn’t make the catch and let the ball roll behind him. A throwing error by LG left fielder Moon Sung-joo turned the inning into a bases-loaded crisis.
The LG bench was unable to prevent the run, even though the pitchers were replaced by Ham Deok-joo and Baek Seung-hyun. They gave up an RBI single to Kim Min-hyuk, an RBI double to Alford, and an RBI single to Choi Seok-ho to make it a 3-4 game.
However, Oh wiped out his mistake in the bottom of the fifth inning, and it proved to be the saving grace before the team was brought to its knees. In the top of the ninth inning, with LG trailing 5-7, he hit a game-winning three-run homer off KT closer Kim Jae-yoon.
On a one-pitch count, Oh took a perfect swing at Kim’s second 145-kilometer fastball. He didn’t miss a pitch in the middle of the strike zone, and sent it over the right field fence for a 120-meter shot.
LG took a 5-4 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Park Dong-won hit a two-run homer with the score tied at 5-5, but almost fell victim to an upset in the bottom of the eighth when closer Ko Woo-seok, who entered early, gave up three runs. In the bottom of the eighth, KT’s No. 4 hitter Park Byung-ho, who had been in a slump, hit a two-run homer to turn the tide in KT’s favor. If not for Oh’s home run, KT would have lost the series 1-2, putting a cloud over their chances of winning their first Korean Series title in 29 years.
With the guilt of his error behind him, Oh can feel good about leading LG to victory and prepare for Game 4 at the same venue on Nov. 11. It was also the second consecutive game in which he activated the home run gun following the second game on the 8th.
“Before the Korean Series started, I told my teammates that we should never give up until the end of the game,” Oh said in an official postgame interview. “When (Park) Byung-ho hit a home run in the bottom of the eighth inning, the atmosphere in the LG dugout seemed to have calmed down, so we decided to take advantage of it by batting first and attacking in the top of the ninth inning,” he explained.
“In the top of the ninth, our leadoff hitter Hong Chang-ki hit a single and Park Hae-min was out, but I felt desperate. In front of me, Austin fouled off a pitch and walked to load the bases. I was desperate to get a hit or connect to the next batter, and the best result came out of it,” he laughed.
The following is a one-on-one interview with Oh.
-Describe the circumstances of your home run.
I told my teammates before the Korean Series started. I told them not to give up until the end of the game. When Park Byung-ho hit the game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning, I think the atmosphere in the LG dugout subsided, so we said, “Let’s try to create some chances in the top of the ninth inning because the offense will start with the first batter.
But even though Hong Chang-ki singled and Park Hae-min was out, I felt desperate. With runners on second and first, I just wanted Austin to get on base somehow. When I came up to bat next, I was desperate to do something, whether it was getting a hit or connecting with the next batter, and the biggest good thing happened.
As for the home run, I don’t know if it was a changeup or a forkball that Kim threw on the first pitch, but it was well out of the strike zone. The moment it became a one-ball, I was confident. I was just aiming for a fastball and trying to swing at it confidently, and it hit like a lie.
- What were you thinking when Jang went to the mound in the first inning?
I simply put myself in Jang Sung-woo’s shoes. I had a feeling that Jang Sung-woo would have told Kim Jae-yoon to throw a fastball because of his style. I kept it simple and only thought about fastballs because the count was in my favor, and the result was good.
- It must have been hard for him to make a mistake.
It was very cold out there. I knew I could take it slow because I had Park Byung-ho at first base and Jang Sung-woo at the plate, but Su-won has a hard bounce, so I thought I should dash it. I tried to stop it, but it didn’t work. It was my mistake and it put the team in big trouble. I felt bad because it led to a run, but after we lost the lead, we came back with a two-run homer by Park Dong-won. From that moment on, I played with a normal mind again.
- I played well with Park Dong-won.
I’m happy for both of us, but with two wins, we have the upper hand, so I can say that Park Dong-won and I played a part in that. They are important and valuable players for the team, and it means a lot to me that they can create chances or close out games. This is my first Korean Series experience and my first postseason home run.
- I feel like I’m competing with Park Dong-won for the club-issued Rolex watch that goes to the Korean Series MVP.
Jokingly, the players and the dugout atmosphere were like that. We were jokingly saying, “Hey, this isn’t over until we hit two home runs to come back from behind. I thought it was a funny situation. I know I say I want a watch, but my first goal is to win a championship. In 15 years for me and 29 years for the fans, this moment has never happened. Winning is the big goal. It’s an expensive watch, but I want to buy it.
- It’s three straight one-run games.
Basically, I know we had the most come-from-behind wins in the regular season. So there’s a sense that we’re going to have a lot of chances to come from behind. We have fast runners, we have guys who can make contact, we have long balls, so we have a good chance to come back.
-We did a post-game ceremony like we won the championship. 아톰카지노 주소
You have to win a lot of games fast. You never know what’s going to happen in baseball. As we saw today, baseball is a sport where one ball, one strike, one out, and the game can turn around, so I’m not going to relax. As a captain, I’m just trying to keep the good vibes going.