“Should we bunt from the first inning?”
Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon, where the LG-Hanwha match was held on the 15th, was dark with dark clouds even before the game. The rain that had been falling since the morning eased slightly in the afternoon, but did not stop completely. There was a large tarpaulin spread in the infield, so the players warmed up at the indoor practice field. The situation was up and down, but rain was forecast for the evening as well. With precipitation of more than 20 mm per hour forecast from 7 p.m., it seemed likely that the game would be suspended after the start of the game at 6:30 p.m.
Ahead of the game, Hanwha coach Choi Won-ho said, “I think I will go into the game in this condition…” 메이저놀이터“Should we bunt from the first inning?” he said. After the 5th inning, the game is officially called by rain, so it means that you need to score points as quickly as possible from the beginning to take the lead.
LG coach Yeom Kyung-yeop also said the same thing. Coach Yeom Gyeong-yeop, who checked the ever-changing weather forecast on his cell phone before the game, said, “If it rains from 8 o’clock, it will likely continue to rain,” and laughed. “I told the players that they would bunt starting in the first inning because they had to score within the fifth inning.”
The game, which started 10 minutes late due to ground maintenance work, became a ‘rainy baseball game’ as expected. A considerable amount of rain fell until the second inning, and the pitchers had a hard time shaking off the dirt that had accumulated on their spikes. Spectators watched the game in the rain using umbrellas or wearing raincoats.
As there was a high possibility that it would be a rain-cold game, both teams played squeezed baseball from the beginning of the game. With the score tied 1-1, Hanwha Lee Jin-young hit a sacrifice bunt on second base with no outs in the second inning. Then, with one out and runners on third base, Hanwha Lee Do-yoon hit a squeeze bunt on the first pitch. LG pitcher Kim Yun-sik calmly ran forward and sent the ball home with a glove toss, causing third base runner Nick Williams to tag out.
LG also countered with a squeeze bunt in the third inning. With no outs on first and third base, trailing 1-3, Shin Min-jae suddenly bunted on the second pitch after missing the first pitch against Felix Peña. While the ball rolled next to the pitcher, third base runner Park Hae-min came home. Peña had to give up the home game and be content with throwing to first base and getting an out. The record is Shin Min-jae’s sacrifice bunt, 1 RBI.
It was not a short-term game, nor was it a game with immediate rankings at stake, but both teams unusually exchanged squeeze bunts from the beginning of the second or third inning. SPOTV commentator Yang Sang-moon, who was in charge of broadcasting that day, laughed and said, “This is the first time I have seen a squeeze in the 2nd or 3rd inning in a game other than the Korean Series.” It was an extraordinary scene brought about by baseball in the rain.
LG tied the score at 3-3 with Kim Hyun-soo’s timely hit to right with one out and one on second base following a squeeze bunt. In the 4th inning, Hanwha had no outs on first base and Lee Jin-young bunted on the first pitch, but it ended up being a fly in front of the catcher, cutting off the flow of the attack. Then, LG took a 4-3 lead in the 5th inning with Austin Dean’s timely hit to left.
In the end, Austin’s timely hit became the winning point. The game was stopped as the rain became heavier ahead of LG’s attack in the 7th inning. We waited 47 minutes after the 8:56 p.m. stoppage, but as the rain did not stop, a cold rain event was declared at 9:43 p.m.
As the rain that fell at the perfect time served as a closing pitcher, LG won 4-3, breaking a three-game losing streak and firmly maintaining first place. After the game, coach Yeom Kyeong-yeop said, “It rained and Austin gave up a point when we really needed a point,” and pointed to the one run scored in the fifth inning before the rain poured down as the deciding factor.