In the bottom of the sixth inning, with the score tied at 4-4, pinch-hitter Lee Jung-geun slowly walked up to the plate. A huge cheer erupted from the Lotte stands on the first base side. A few moments later, Lee made the fans cheer even louder.
Lotte won 7-4 at home against SSG Landers at Sajik Stadium on April 16, extending its winning streak to three games. The seventh-ranked Lotte moved to within one game of the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears.
The game-winning hit came from none other than Lee Jung-geun, who was scratched from the starting lineup. He had been hitting hot in August, batting .519 (14-for-27), but he was on the bench with starter Aaron Wilkerson’s “best catcher,” Son Sung-bin, wearing a face mask.
Wilkerson left the mound after giving up four runs (two earned) in five and two-thirds innings on the day. Lotte gave up a 4-4 tie in the top of the sixth inning on defense.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, Lotte manager Larry Sutton pulled out the pinch-hitter card for No. 9 Son Sung-bin. The SSG bench then pulled left-handed pitcher Lim Jun-seop and replaced him with Choi Min-joon.
Lee flashed a wry smile at the bench as if he wasn’t used to the fans’ cheers and the opponent’s pitching change.
At the plate, however, he swung the bat hard. He drove a 139-kilometer-per-hour fastball from SSG’s Choi Min-jun into left-center field for an RBI double.
Leading 7-4 in the bottom of the seventh inning, with runners on first and third and SSG’s Moon Seung-won facing a two-ball against Lee, SSG switched pitchers. Lee, who was evaluated as a defensive catcher, gave a tough image that went beyond the pinch-hitting card and changed the opponent’s mound operation.
The catcher was drafted in the 83rd round, 9th overall, in 2018. Despite his low pick, he made his first-team debut the following year. However, he was unable to make the leap from being a workhorse to a starter for Lotte. He was more of a defensive catcher with a weak bat. Until last year, his batting average in the first team was 0.175 (433 at-bats). His career batting average in the Futures (second division) league is also low at 0.237.
However, Lee has been the hottest hitter for Lotte lately. In 12 games from August 1-15, he batted .519 (14-for-27). His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) is 1.384. In 41 total games this season, he is batting .418 (23-for-55). His on-base percentage and slugging percentage are combined for an OPS of 1.115. 메이저사이트
Lately, he’s been coming through in key situations. On April 2, he hit a two-run home run against the Sajik NC Dinos to rally from a 2-3 deficit. It was his second career game-winning home run. On the 15th against the SSG Landers, he collected his first five hits of his career to lead the team to a 10-6 victory. He hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the fourth inning with the score 1-2 and an RBI single in the fifth inning with the score 3-2.
It was more of the same for Altoran against SSG on Saturday.
Lotte’s momentum is skyrocketing thanks to the delightful rebellion of Lee Jung-geun, who was batting just .199 over the past 14 days.