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Doosan Bears win slugfest to even baseball postseason series

The Doosan Bears beat up on the NC Dinos 17-7 to even their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at one game apiece on Wednesday, prevailing in a slugfest for the ages.

Doosan's designated hitter Choi Joo-hwan pounded a go-ahead grand slam in the eight-run sixth inning at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, and cleanup Kim Jae-hwan crushed a pair of three-run jacks in the wild affair.

The Bears exacted revenge after getting beat up 13-5 on Tuesday. Game 3 is 6:30 p.m. Friday at the Dinos' home, Masan Stadium in Changwon, 450 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

It was a battle of home runs on the cool, rainy night in the nation's capital, with the two clubs launching four homers apiece to set a record for most homers in a postseason game.

The previous mark was seven, set in 1999 and matched in 2007.

Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears hits his second three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning against the NC Dinos in Game 2 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 18, 2017. (Yonhap)
Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears hits his second three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning against the NC Dinos in Game 2 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 18, 2017. (Yonhap)

The Bears also came up one run shy of matching their own record for most runs by a team in a postseason game.

For the second straight night, the Bears scored the first run of the game, as Park Kun-woo blasted a solo home run off NC starter Lee Jae-hak in the bottom of the first.

The ball went off the batter's eye and hit a spot just above the yellow line -- painted to help umpires distinguish home run balls -- before coming back into the field. Park reached third for what at first appeared to be a triple, but the Bears asked for a review and won the challenge to get the home run call.

And for the second straight night, the Dinos responded right away.

Second baseman Ji Seok-hun, he of six regular season home runs in 121 games, hit a towering solo shot off Doosan starter Chang Won-jun over the left field fence to tie the game at 1-1.

After Son Si-hyun reached on an error by third baseman Hur Kyoung-min, No. 8 hitter Kim Seong-uk, who also had just six homers in the regular season, made the Bears pay with a two-run shot to left, putting the Dinos up 3-1.

Kim was then lifted for Kim Jun-wan in center field to begin the top third. His left spike cut into his right foot when he tried to make a play on Park's home run in the first inning.

The Dinos added to their lead on Xavier Scruggs' RBI double to right-center gap in the top third.

But the Bears, who ranked second in the regular season with 849 runs scored and 178 home runs, simply had too much firepower to just bow out.

In the bottom third, they eked out two singles with two outs, and cleanup Kim Jae-hwan crushed a three-run shot to knot the score up at 4-4.

But in the top fifth, the Dinos went ahead again with -- what else -- a home run. Following a leadoff single, Na Sung-bum drove the first pitch slider from Chang way over the center field wall and gave the Dinos a 6-4 lead.

And it was once again home runs that altered the course of the game in a hurry.

The Bears loaded the bases with nobody out in the bottom sixth, with three consecutive walks -- the first two by Koo Chang-mo and third by Jeff Manship. Then Choi Joo-hwan took Manship's 1-0 fastball over the left field fence for the grand slam that staked the Bears to an 8-6 lead.

The Bears never looked back.

Manship retired the next batter but was chased after a single by Hury Kyoung-min. New NC pitcher, Won Jong-hyun, hit a batter to put two men on board.

Won struck out Ryu Ji-hyuk but Park Kun-woo delivered an RBI single for a 9-6 cushion.

That set the stage for Kim Jae-hwan, who took Won over the right field for another majestic three-run blast.

Down 12-6, the Dinos got a run back on Scruggs' solo home run in the top seventh, but Hur Kyoung-min's double in the bottom seventh restored a six-run lead for the Bears.

There were some tense moments in the seventh, as NC pitcher Choi Keum-kang hit two straight batters, the latter with the bases loaded as the Bears made it 14-7. These pitches came after Oh Jae-won's two steals with a five-run lead.

Kim Jae-hwan then picked up his seventh RBI of the night with a sacrifice fly later that inning.

If there were any remaining doubts of an NC comeback, Jo Soo-haeng put that to rest with a two-run double in the bottom eighth that made it 17-7 Bears.

Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyung said after both starters struggled early, it came down to the offense.

"We were able to win this one because our bats got hot," Kim said. "We just had to go power against power, and we managed to get out on top."

Kim Jae-hwan, who led the team with 35 home runs and 115 RBIs in the regular season, led the onslaught with two homers and seven RBIs.

Park Kun-woo had three hits while driving in three and scoring three runs.

Chang Won-jun, usually a big-game pitcher, instead suffered through a dismal outing, though his offense bailed him out. Chang allowed six runs -- one unearned -- on 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. He only struck out one batter.

Prior to Wednesday, Chang carried a 6-1 record and a 3.61 ERA in 11 postseason appearances. He had also given up just four home runs in 57 1/3 career postseason innings before getting touched for three long balls.

The postseason woes for Lee Jae-hak continued on Wednesday. The 2013 Rookie of the Year was making his first postseason start in three years, but lasted just three innings, in which he allowed four runs on five hits, including two home runs.

He now has a career postseason ERA of 14.85, with 11 earned runs in 6 2/3 innings.

But Lee was the least of the Dinos' problems, as their bullpen was absolutely destroyed.

Right-hander Lee Min-ho held the Bears scoreless for two innings after Lee Jae-hak's departure. But they needed five pitchers just to survive the eight-run sixth inning.

Both teams will send American starters to the mound in Game 3.

Doosan will have right-hander Michael Bowden. He's coming off an injury-plagued regular season in which he only made 17 starts, going 3-5 with a 4.64 ERA. He faced the Dinos once in the regular season, and held them to two earned runs in six innings.

NC will match up with Eric Hacker, a fifth-year KBO veteran. He was the MVP of the first round series against the Lotte Giants, after limiting the opposition to a run in 13 1/3 innings. He went 1-1 with a 2.77 ERA against the Bears in the regular season. (Yonhap)