Wasted Opportunities Come Back to Haunt Bears in Game 6

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          The smile on Bae Myeong Soo’s face said it all. It’s not customary to see such a bright countenance on a pitcher who trails in the second inning, but Bae realized the significance of what had just occurred. The Baseball gods had just given him and his Lion teammates a big break. Trailing already 1-0 thanks to a Jeong Soo Bin leadoff homer in the first, the Bears were knocking on the door again. They had already knocked starter Baen Deon Heoul out after he struggled with his command. With 2 outs in the second, Kim Hyun Soo strode to the plate with the bases loaded. The Bears appeared to be one big hit away from claiming the 4th championship in team history. Bae Myeong Soo missed his spot and Kim Hyung Soo hit a deep fly to the opposite field. The shot sent left fielder Chae Tae In to the warning track where he hauled it in for the final out. Soo missed a grand slam by a meter. Bae Myeong Soo and the Lions narrowly escaped from what would have been a sure knockout blow; hence, Bae’s huge grin as he walked back to the home dugout.

        The Bears were right back at it in the third, loading the bases with only one out. At this point in the game, only 7 Bears hitters had been retired while 9 had reached base. Once again, the Bears were one big blow away from breaking everything open and giving starter Dustin Nippert a commanding lead. Instead, Samsung’s third pitcher in as many innings, Cha Woo Chan, induced a weak double play ball from Bear catcher Choi Jae Hoon. The Bears had just missed two enormous chances to take a big lead. Underdog teams only get so many chances.

         The rest of the story was predictable. If you let the two time defending champs get off the hook, they will make you pay. The Bears did get another monster shot (and impressive bat flip) from the mammoth Choi Jun Seok, but the Lions scored the game’s final 5 runs. Nippert was strong but perhaps pushed past his limit. He allowed a 6th inning homerun to Chae Tae In that surrendered the lead and he was faltering again in the seventh. It appeared his night was finished. He was over 100 pitches and had just allowed a second man to reach with 2 outs. Bears manager Kim Jin Wook went out to the mound. In a surprising move, he left a tiring Nippert in to face Park Han Lee. The decision proved costly, Park’s three run homer put the game out of reach. For a moment in the top of the 9th, Lee Jong Wook thought he had delivered a three run homer off All-Star closer Ho Sung Hwan, but the long fly turned out to be the game’s final out as it landed harmlessly into the leftfielder’s mitt. Game 6 final: Lions 6, Bears 2.

          It all comes down to this, a Game 7. Yu Hui-Kwan gets the ball for the Bears. Samsung will counter with Jam Wong Sam. The Bears’ once certain upset Championship is in grave danger of ending in major disappointment. Lions and Bears supporters in the Seoul area will be able to watch the game for free at Jamsil Stadium on the jumbo center field scoreboard. Doors open at 5, the game starts at 6. – Matt Vriesman