Where was Hwang Jae-gyun looking…KT’s winning but dangerous 4th inning defense

KT Wiz’s complacent defense led to a crisis. A win, but a lack of focus.

KT won a 4-2 road game against the Kiwoom Heroes of the 2023 KBO League at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Nov. 11. Starting pitcher Wes Benjamin pitched seven and two-thirds innings of two-run ball, and the offense got four runs off Kiwoom ace Ahn Woo-jin. The win snapped a four-game losing streak.

On this day, KT faced Ahn Woo-jin. The right-hander has struggled in his last two outings, giving up more than four runs in each, but has been extremely dominant in three games against KT this season, posting a 1.42 ERA. It was a game that shouldn’t have been lost due to missed scoring opportunities and basic errors.

KT opened the scoring in the top of the first inning when Kim Min-hyuk and Kim Sang-soo hit back-to-back singles against Kiwoom starter and league representative Ahn Woo-jin to put runners on second and third before Anthony Alford brought them home with a sacrifice fly.

However, in the second inning, Ahn struck out one after another. From Jang Sung-woo in the bottom of the first, to Hwang Jae-gyun, Lee Ho-yeon, and Moon Sang-chul in the second, to Kim Min-hyuk in the third, six consecutive batters were retired. Alford and Park Byung-ho in the fourth inning and Lee Ho-yeon and pinch-hitter Kang Baek-ho in the fifth also struck out in succession.

More than the lethargic offense, it was the defense that lacked focus and judgment. KT starter Wes Benjamin pitched a scoreless third inning, but gave up a run on a wild pitch in the fourth. With the bases loaded, he gave up a line drive down the left field line to Kim Hye-sung, who fielded the ball herself.

Hye-Sung Kim leads the 2021 season in stolen bases (46). Benjamin tried to make a throw that he didn’t need to make, but he was off-balance, and the ball ended up where the first baseman couldn’t catch it, allowing the runner to advance to second.

Benjamin then gave up a walk to Lee Jeong-hoo to put runners on the corners. Against the No. 4 hitter, Lim Ji-yeol, he gave up a single down the left field line.

In this situation, KT third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun also lacked concentration. KT’s left outfield and shortstop Kim Sang-soo made a relatively clean relay play, and Kiwoom’s third base coach stopped Lee Jung-hoo, who was running home. There was quite a bit of distance between third base and Lee. If the third baseman was on the base, he could have gotten the out.

However, Hwang Jae-gyun’s gaze was not directed to third base. He shouted from the KT bench, pointing to third base, but Lee had already returned home. 안전놀이터추천

No further runs were scored. Benjamin worked out of the jam by striking out Park Chan-hyuk and getting Song Sung-moon to ground into an infield single to end the inning. KT took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh when Park Byung-ho singled against Ahn Woo-jin, Jang Jang-woo walked, and Hwang Jae-gyun singled in Lee Ho-yeon. Choi Sung-ho followed with an RBI double against reliever Yang Hyun. The bullpen held Kiwoom to one run to preserve the lead.

They won. They snapped a four-game losing streak. But the defense faltered, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that this game could have been won at any moment.

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