“Should I bunt from the first inning?”
Daejeon’s Hanwha Life Glass Park, where the LG-Hanwha game was played on April 15, was dark and cloudy before the game. The morning rain eased off in the afternoon, but not completely. A large tarp was placed on the infield and the players warmed up on the indoor practice field. It was a mixed bag, with rain forecast for the evening. More than 20 millimeters per hour of precipitation was forecast starting at 7 p.m., and it seemed likely that the game would be canceled after the 6:30 start time.
Before the game, Hanwha manager Choi Won-ho said, “I think we can play in this condition…but we should bunt from the first inning.” Since the game will be officially called after the fifth inning, it’s important to score runs as early as possible to take the lead.
LG coach Yoon Kyung-yeop said the same thing. “It’s been raining since 8 o’clock, and it’s going to keep raining,” he said as he checked the weather forecast on his phone before the game. “I told the players to bunt from the first inning because we need to score in the fifth inning,” he laughed.
The game started 10 minutes late due to ground maintenance, and as expected, it became a ‘rainy baseball’ game. By the second inning, a fair amount of rain had fallen, and the pitchers were struggling to shake the dirt off their spikes. Spectators watched the game in the rain with umbrellas and raincoats.
With the game likely to be a wet and cold affair, both teams played squeeze ball early on. Hanwha tied the game at 1-1 in the second inning when Lee Jin-young laid down a sacrifice bunt with the bases loaded and Hanwha’s Lee Do-yoon laid down a squeeze bunt on the first pitch. LG pitcher Kim Yoon-sik calmly stepped forward and threw the ball home with a glove toss, forcing the tag out of Nick Williams at third base.
In the next inning, LG countered with a squeeze bunt of their own. Trailing 1-3 with runners on first and third, Shin Min-jae suddenly bunted on the second pitch after a wild swing at Felix Peña. The ball rolled to the side of the pitcher, allowing Park Hae-min to score from third base. Peña gave up the home run and had to settle for throwing to first base to get one out. Shin Min-jae laid down a sacrifice bunt.
It wasn’t a short game, and there wasn’t an immediate standings battle on the line, but in the first two or three innings, both teams traded squeeze bunts. SPOTV commentator Yang Sang-moon, who was calling the game, laughed, saying, “I’ve never seen squeeze bunts in the first two or three innings of a game outside of the Korean Series.” It was a rare sight in Woojung baseball. 메이저사이트
After the squeeze bunt, LG tied the game at 3-3 when Kim Hyun-soo singled to right field with the bases loaded. In the fourth inning, Hanwha had a runner on first with no outs when Lee Jin-young laid down a bunt, but it floated in front of the catcher, ending the offensive flow. LG then took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Austin Dean singled to left field.
Austin’s RBI single would prove to be the game-winner. In the top of the seventh inning, the game was suspended due to heavy rain. After a 47-minute wait following the 8:56 p.m. halt, a rain delay was called at 9:43 p.m. when the rain didn’t stop.
The rain came at just the right time, acting as the finishing touch, and LG won 4-3, snapping a three-game losing streak and solidifying its hold on first place. “It rained and Austin scored when we really needed a run,” said head coach Yeom Kyung-yeop after the game, pointing to the fifth inning’s one run before the rain poured down as the deciding factor.