Backup infielder Hwangmok Chi-seung was the hero for the LG Twins’ in their stunning comeback victory against the Nexen Heroes last night. Hwangmok scored the two-out, game-tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning, taking home plate with a skillful acrobatic slide.
LG entered the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 3-1, and when pinch hitter Chae Eun-seong grounded out to open the frame, it seemed they would fade without a fight. But then right fielder Lee Cheon-woong drew a four-pitch walk, and designated hitter Park Yong-taek doubled him home to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Park’s double set the stage for Hwangmok’s heroics. He was substituted as a pinch runner for Park, then after third baseman Yang Seok-hwan struck out, he took off running on center fielder Lee Hyeong-jong’s single to right field.
Nexen right fielder Lee Jeong-hoo’s throw was right on target, and arrived at home plate several feet ahead of Hwangmok. Though Hwangmok attempted to evade catcher Park Dong-won’s tag, it appeared he had been badly beaten to the plate, as he was called out.
In this screen capture, LG Twins pinch runner Hwangmok Chi-seung (R) evades the tag of Nexen Heroes catcher Park Dong-won in a game on July 26, 2017.
But while Nexen players gathered around the mound to celebrate their victory, the Twins appealed for a video review. The review team deliberated and finally overturned the call, ruling Hwangmok had evaded Park’s initial tag, contorting his body and slipping his left hand to the plate before the tag was applied.
With LG breathing new life, the game continued. First baseman Jeong Seong-hoon walked and shortstop Oh Ji-hwan was hit by a pitch, then catcher Jeong Sang-ho watched a pitch off the plate to walk home the winning run, giving LG a 4-3 victory.
After the game, Hwangmok sheepishly admitted he hadn’t intentionally dodged Park’s tag, saying “The throw home was fast and accurate, and when I got there the ball was already there. My only thought at that time was ‘I can’t get caught.’ I knew I was beaten to home, so I just instinctively turned to avoid the tag and that happened.”
Hwangmok has displayed his evasive sliding skills before. In last season’s Wild Card playoff against the KIA Tigers, he reached second base on a similarly evasive slide.
“Honestly, I don’t have a secret to sliding,” Hwangmok said. “When I’m out there I imagine several scenarios in my head, thinking how I should slide based on the situation and location. And then in certain situations, my body seems to just move itself.”
“A backup player like me might get one chance in a game. I’m always nervous waiting for an opportunity, especially because right now every game and every win is important. I have to be ready at all times to fill slots if I’m needed.”
The Twins currently trail the Heroes by a single game in the standings, and will look to catch them to assume fourth place in the standings as the two teams face off at Jamsil Stadium tonight.
By Alex Park / Intern reporter (email@example.com)