His 377th career start. Tied for the most appearances in the KBO. He rubbed shoulders with the legendary Song Jin-woo.
But an unintentional mistake by a teammate sparked a firestorm. Under the heavy rain, Yang Hyun-jong was forced to leave the mound after five innings.
13th, Gwangju Kia Champions Field. Both teams were desperate for a win as they traveled to Gwangju after losing hard-fought games the day before to Daegu Samsung Electronics and Busan NC, respectively. The starting matchup pitted Yang Hyun-jong against Shim Jae-min. The weight was on KIA’s side.
The defensive change came first for Lotte. In the bottom of the first inning, KIA’s Lee Woo-sung hit a grounder to third base that Lotte’s third baseman Han Dong-hee dropped sideways. However, Shim Jae-min calmly cut off the follow-up to keep the run off the board. Both pitchers pitched scoreless innings until the second inning.
In the third inning, Yang Hyun-jong was suddenly shaken. He gave up a walk to the first batter, Han Dong-hee, and after a failed bunt, Lee Hak-joo singled to left. Hwang Sung-bin then bunted, but Yang Hyun-jong’s throw to first base was slightly off the mark and was saved by the shifting feet of Kim Sun-bin at first base.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Lotte’s Yoon Dong-hee hit a grounder to third base. KIA third baseman Choi Jeong-yong scooped up the ball and ran to third base. However, the ball was not fully fielded. Choi made a force out at third base, but the ball went sideways before he could follow up. Lotte takes the lead. It wasn’t recorded as an error because the count went up at third base, but it was a clear defensive mistake.
Commentator Kim Tae-hyung said, “It was a fatal mistake. It wasn’t a bad throw, it was a bad throw. The ball was still hovering in his glove,” and pointed out that he should have completely covered the ball with his right hand before making the next play. 스포츠토토
Coincidentally, Park Chan-ho had left the game the day before with a finger injury, leaving Kim Do-young at shortstop and Choi Jung-yong at third base. Park Chan-ho’s absence at shortstop was evident in the outfield.
Yang Hyun-jong then struck out Jung-hoon, but gave up an RBI double to Ahn Chi-hong for a 3-0 lead.
Speaking before the game, Kia manager Kim Jong-kook praised Yang Hyun-jong for regaining his stability late in the season, saying, “His innings are steady and he’s leading the starting lineup. I hope he can continue like this for the rest of the season.” However, an unrecorded mistake shook the pitcher.
As the rain grew heavier, Yang left the mound after the fifth inning. He had already thrown 92 pitches. It was a bittersweet exit that didn’t live up to the record books.