Lotte Giants pinch hitter Park Joon-seo rounds the bases after hitting a gametying, two-run homer in the eighth inning against the Doosan Bears in Game 1 of the first-round playoffs in Seoul, Monday. / Yonhap
By Kang Seung-woo
The Lotte Giants drew first blood in the first round of the KBO playoffs, defeating the Doosan Bears 8-5 in extra innings on Monday.
Park Joon-seo hit a two-run, pinch-hit home run for the Giants in the eighth inning to tie Game 1 at 5-5 and Hwang Jae-gyun’s run-scoring double in the 10th sealed victory in Seoul.
Despite being a 12-year pro, Park’s epic homer came in his first-ever playoff at-bat, which saw him named man of the match. Right-handed pitcher Kim Sa-yool took the mound in the bottom of the ninth with one runner on first base to retire three Bear and claim the win. Chong Tae-hyon earned a save.
Since the first-round playoff was introduced in 1989, 18 opening-game winners have advanced to the next stage. However, teams losing Game 1 have reached the second phase for the last three years.
The third-ranked Giants got on the scoreboard first in the fourth thanks to Hwang’s RBI single off American hurler Dustin Nippert and went on to add two more runs that inning for a 3-0 lead.
Three defensive errors cost the Giants their advantage in the fifth and the home side capitalized scoring four runs. The Bears then added a run in the seventh, six outs away from victory.
But the Giants, in the playoffs for a fifth straight year, were not finished.
Switch-hitter Park sent the third pitch he saw from reliever Hong Sang-sam in the eighth over the right-field wall to cancel out the Bears’ two-run advantage.
A sellout crowd of 26,000 packed Jamsil Stadium to take the league’s postseason sold-out ballpark streak to 11.