Samsung’s Lee Seung-yeop batted fifth in Game 5, up a spot from the four previous games. (Yonhap News)
It might have been a desperate move on the part of the Samsung Lions’ manager Ryu Joong-il, but reshuffling the struggling lineup kept the two-time defending champions alive in the Korean Series.
After scoring seven runs in four previous games against the Doosan Bears in their battle for the Korea Baseball Organization championship, the new-look Lions on Tuesday enjoyed a 7-5 victory in Game 5 to live to see another day in the best-of-seven affair.
The Lions still trail 3-2 in the series, but they head back home to Daegu Stadium for Game 6 on Thursday with renewed confidence. The Lions entered Game 5 hitting .175 as a team with 24 hits in four games. On Tuesday, they had 11 hits, including a pair of solo home runs, and swung the bat with more assurance than at any point during the series.
For the first time in the series, Ryu benched leadoff man Bae Young-seop, who was batting 1-for-16 in four games, in favor of Jeong Hyeong-sik. Park Han-yi, 1-for-10 prior to Game 5, went up from seventh to second in the order.
Lee Seung-yeop, the 2012 Korean Series MVP struggling in the 2013 series, batted fifth in Game 5, up a spot from four previous games. Park Seok-min, who hit a solo shot in Game 1 but had since lost his touch, traded places with Lee and batted sixth.
Ryu’s gamble in the win-or-go-home game mostly paid off. Park Han-yi went 0-for-4 through six innings but delivered a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth that proved to be the difference in this game. Park Seok-min reached base five times, with two singles and three walks in five plate appearances.
The two mainstays in the heart of the order also came through. Chae Tae-in, batting third for the second straight game, hit an opposite-field solo home run to left to spark the three-run first inning.
Choi Hyung-woo, cleaning up in every game of the series so far, also hit a solo shot as part of his 3-for-5 night.
Ryu breathed a sigh of relief that his offense woke up just in time.
“We finally hit today,” the manager said. “Our guys had been stressed out during the series, but they really concentrated today, thinking this could be the last game of the year for us.”
Lee Seung-yeop was 1-for-4 with a walk, but also hit a deep fly to center that was caught at the track at Jamsil, the league’s largest ballpark with a distance of 125 meters from home to center. (Yonhap News)