Lotte catcher Lee Jung-geun hit his second career home run when it mattered most.
In the starting lineup as the No. 9 catcher against NC at Sajik Stadium in Busan on Feb. 2, Lee hit a home run in the fourth inning.
Trailing 2-3 in the top of the fourth inning, Lee batted first and took a two-pitch curveball from NC’s Eric Peddie over the left field fence.
It was Lee’s first home run of the season and the second of his career. His first home run came on July 29 last year against Kim Yoon-soo for Samsung Electronics.
This time, he did it against the best foreign pitcher in the league. Pedi has been the best pitcher in the KBO this season. Before this game, he was ranked first in ERA (1.74), first in wins (14), first in winning percentage (0.875), and first in WHIP (0.98), and his ERA was the only one in the single digits among the league’s pitchers. Against Lotte this year, he pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball on March 12.
After a home run by Shin Jung-geun and an RBI single up the middle by Rico Goodrum, Pedi was pulled early after allowing five runs on nine hits, one home run, one walk and two strikeouts in four innings. It was the first time this season he failed to complete five innings and the most runs allowed in a game.
After taking the lead, Lotte held on for the win and snapped their recent four-game losing streak.
After the game, Jung said, “Pedi Joo’s pitch was a slider, so I was aiming for it from the first at-bat. In my first at-bat, I saw a ball that I was aiming for, but it didn’t work out because I put a lot of effort into it. In my second at-bat, I went in with the same idea, but I got a bad pitch, so I got a good result.”
“When I saw that there was a runner on first base, I tried not to hit it, but it worked out well,” he said.
There were 11,144 fans in attendance at Sajik Stadium that day. Cheers erupted for the home run. Lee raised his right hand in celebration. “It was very exhilarating,” he said, adding, “I think I raised 안전놀이터 my hand without realizing it.”
It was even more exhilarating than his first home run. “My first home run was a walk-off home run when the team was winning, and my second home run was a come-from-behind home run. It was more meaningful and better because the team came from behind to win. In comparison, I’m a little happier with this home run.”