From villain to hero, Goh rings again

A critical bunt failed, but he stepped up to the plate. KT outfielder Moon Sang-cheol (32) turned the tables on LG’s Ko Woo-seok at a crucial moment, turning him from a villain into a hero.

Moon Sang-chul, batting seventh in the lineup in the first game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Baseball Series (best-of-seven) at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on April 7, hit a two-run double off Go Woo-seok to the left field fence in the bottom of the ninth inning with the score tied at 2-2 to give KT a 3-2 victory. For his game-winning hit in Game 1, Moon was named the Daily MVP. Moon had an unforgettable day in his Korean Series debut, hitting the game-winning hit and earning MVP honors.

Early in the game, it looked like it was going to be a nightmare. Trailing 1-2 with runners on first and second in the second inning, he laid down a bunt on Casey Kelly’s first pitch, but the ball didn’t roll forward and stood in front of the catcher. LG catcher Park Dong-won made a quick throw to third, 먹튀검증 and third baseman Moon Bo-kyung stepped on the base and threw to first for the bunt kill. To make matters worse, the runner from first to second was tagged out trying to steal third, ending the inning with a triple.

It was a cold, hard bunt.

It was the second consecutive game in the playoffs where a failed bunt proved fatal. He struck out in back-to-back at-bats in the fifth and seventh innings. In the seventh inning, with runners on first and second, he was fooled by Lee Jung-yong’s forked ball and struck out swinging.

In fact, Moon could have been replaced by pinch-hitter Kim Min-hyuk in this at-bat. However, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol trusted Moon Sang-chul one more time and sent Kim Min-hyuk to pinch-hit for Park Kyung-soo in his next at-bat. “In the end, leaving Moon Sang-chul in the game led to the victory,” Lee said in a postgame interview, explaining why he didn’t make another change in the last at-bat of the ninth inning, “Go Woo-seok was 3-for-3. I thought it would be a chance if the batting order went out.”

As Lee said, Moon Sang-chul has been strong against Ko Woo-seok this year, going 3-for-3. On July 26 in Suwon, he hit an extra-base hit in the 12th inning, and on September 6 in Suwon, he came up as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning and hit a fastball over the top of the left field fence for a two-run double. On that occasion, KT used a four-run big inning, led by Moon’s double, to pull off a 4-3 comeback win.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Choi Jae-dae walked on a full count of nine pitches against Go Woo-seok. Moon Sang-chul then took a six-pitch body curveball from Ko Woo-seok and smashed it over the left field fence. Just like on September 6, he hit a home run double to bring home the first baseman. It was a moment of heroism.

After the game, Moon Sang-chul said about the game-winning hit

“Go Woo-seok has the best fastball in Korea. I tried to get my timing right so I wouldn’t be late. After the two strikes, I set a zone that I could hit, so I tried to hit it confidently without hesitation.” As for why he was so strong against Ko, he said, “Every time I go to bat, the ball is good. I didn’t think I could hit it, but the fastball was so fast, so I kept it simple to get the timing right, and the results were good.”

The bunt in the second inning was his decision, not the bench’s. “We got the lead and they came right back, so I was trying to advance the runners because I knew we needed to tie it up quickly. It wasn’t a bench call,” he said. “I could have easily gotten out of the inning, but I took over the game. It was very heavy on my mind, but the coaches and my brothers encouraged me to take advantage of the opportunity. It didn’t go away, but I tried to get it out of my mind quickly, and I guess you could say it went out of my mind because the result was good.”

On the situation, Lee said, “I don’t think anyone would sign for a bunt there. I think I was trying to do the opposite. “If I had lost the game, I would have said that I gave the bunt sign,” he said, “but it was a big thing that Ko Young-pyo did a good job in the next inning. Moon Sang-chul did a good job at the end, so I don’t think I’ll be shocked (by the failed bunt),” he laughed.

Moon Sang-chul, who donned the KT uniform as a member of the 2014 inaugural team, was recognized as a big-league prospect.

He showed off his power in the Futures League, hitting 123 home runs, but his numbers in the first team didn’t live up to expectations with just 26 home runs. When KT won its first Korean Series title in 2021, Moon wasn’t even on the roster.

This year, however, he played in 112 games, the most in the first team, and made his presence felt with a 2.6 percent batting average (79-for-304), nine home runs, and 46 RBIs. When Kang Baek-ho went down with an adductor muscle injury in a practice game leading up to the playoffs, Moon filled the void. In five playoff games, he batted 2-for-6 with four home runs and two RBIs in 15 at-bats. He followed up his game-winning solo home run in the seventh inning of Game 3 with an RBI single to left in Game 5.

With the momentum going his way, he delivered the game-winning hit in Game 1 of the Korean Series with a 74.4 percent chance of winning. Moon said, “It’s good that I hit the game-winning hit, but it’s really good that the team won. Even if we don’t do well and make mistakes, our team encourages each other a lot. We are only looking for one thing: victory,” Moon emphasized.

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