A day after getting robbed of two hits in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason, Doosan Bears' outfielder Min Byung-hun was effusive of the man responsible for the great defensive plays.
NC Dinos' center fielder Kim Jun-wan, 26, made two spectacular diving grabs -- one by accident -- in Tuesday's Game 1 of the clubs' second round series at Seoul's Jamsil Stadium. Both balls came off the bat of Min, the Bears' leadoff man.
The first one came with two outs in the bottom fourth. The Bears were leading 4-2 with men at the corners, and Min sent a towering fly ball to the left-center gap. Kim lunged for a stunning catch that saved two runs and robbed Min at least of a double.
Min Byung-hun of the Doosan Bears (R) celebrates with his first base coach Jeon Hyung-do after a base hit in the bottom of the first in Game 1 of the Korea Baseball Organization postseason series against the NC Dinos at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)
If Kim missed that ball, the score would have been 6-2 with the heart of the order for the Bears coming up. The game would have gone out of control quickly for the Dinos.
Instead, the Dinos went ahead 6-4 in the top fifth on Xavier Scruggs' grand slam, en route to a 13-5 victory.
Loss or not, Min said he was impressed with Kim's catch.
"I watched the TV replay of that catch, and it was a tremendous defensive play," Min told reporters at Jamsil before Wednesday's Game 2. "When the other team makes such a great play, there's nothing you can do about it."
Scruggs, who had three hits and five RBIs, was named Player of the Game, but even NC manager Kim Kyung-moon said he felt Kim Jun-wan was the real MVP of the night.
Min said he agreed.
"We all thought that fourth inning catch was the difference maker," the Bears' outfielder said. "Since I am an outfielder myself, I know how difficult that catch was. Kim was so far away from the ball and he timed his dive perfectly. What a play."
Min was victimized again with a man at second and two outs in the sixth inning. He sent a fly ball to right center, and Kim and NC right fielder, Na Sung-bum, converged. Both players hesitated, and when Na appeared to back off a bit, Kim made a desperate, last minute diving catch.
The Dinos were nursing a 6-5 lead at the time.
Min, who is a far more established player, said of Kim: "I think he's going to be a star in this league." (Yonhap)