5 hours and 19 minutes of nuclear war, Lotte-KIA tie for highest-scoring draw in history

The Lotte Giants and Kia Tigers battled for more than five hours, but the game ended without a win.

Lotte and KIA were unable to decide the winner until the 12th inning of extra innings in their 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank regular season matchup at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan on Friday, drawing 15-15.

The two teams tied the record for the highest-scoring tie in history (15-15). Coincidentally, both Lotte and KIA were the previous holders of the record, with the previous 15-15 draws coming on May 5, 2004, in the unsuccessful Hanwha-KIA match, and on October 23, 2021, in the unsuccessful Hanwha-Lotte match.

As the game ended in a draw, both teams missed out on one record after another. First, Lotte broke the record for the largest come-from-behind win in Korean-American history. In the KBO, the previous record was set on May 8, 2013, when the SK Wyverns (predecessor of SSG Landers) overturned a 10-run deficit (1-10→13:12) against the Doosan Bears. In Major League Baseball, the Cleveland Indians (now the Guardians) overcame a 12-point deficit against the Seattle Mariners on August 5, 2001 (0:12 to 15:14). The largest lead in Nippon Professional Baseball is also 10 runs.

Both teams’ starting pitchers were overwhelmed on this day. Lotte starter Na Gyun-an allowed eight runs on seven hits and six walks with two strikeouts in 1⅔ innings, while KIA starter James Nail was shaky with nine runs (four earned) on 11 hits and two walks with four strikeouts in five innings.

Nail had a chance to tie the KBO’s all-time record for the most runs allowed in a start (nine) when his team blew a lead. However, the Kia bullpen gave up a combined six runs in the sixth and seventh innings to turn the game on its head, and both Nae’s loss and Nae’s win were ruined.

At the plate, Lotte’s Go Seung-min went 2-for-6 with a walk-off home run and six RBI, Hwang Sung-bin went 4-for-6 with a home run, one RBI and three runs scored, while designated hitter Lee Jung-hoon also had three hits and Jeong Hoon had a four-hit game, including a home run. For KIA, Socrates Brito went 4-for-6 with a home run and four RBIs, while Han Jun-soo went 2-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs.

Kia jumped out to a big lead early, capitalizing on their starter, Na Gyun-ahn. In the top of the first inning, Na Gyun-ahn threw three consecutive pitches on a 1-1 count to KIA’s No. 1 hitter, Seo Gun-chang, for a walk. He then threw a cutter up the middle to the next batter, Socrates Brito, for a two-run home run over the right field wall. It was Socrates’ 15th home run of the season. It was a well-hit pitch that traveled 130 meters and hit 173.6 mph.

It didn’t stop there. Na gave up a big double to No. 3 Kim Do-young that hit the top of the right-field wall, and Choi Hyung-woo followed with a single to right-center to make it 3-0. Na gave up another run to Na Sung-beom on a double to left field, followed by an infield single to third by Lee Woo-sung.

He then got No. 7 Choi Won-jun to fly out to center field and Han Jun-soo to strike out swinging to end the threat. However, Park Chan-ho gave up a single to center field, giving up five runs in the first inning.

Lotte pulled within one run in the bottom of the first inning on Victor Reyes’ single to left field with runners on first and second after back-to-back singles by 토토 Hwang Sung-bin and Yoon Dong-hee. However, Na Gyun-ahn would be troubled in the next inning. After giving up a walk to Kim Do-young, the first batter of the inning, he walked Choi Hyung-woo (strikeout) and Na Sung-beom (pitcher’s choice) to put runners on second and third, but back-to-back singles to Lee Woo-sung and Choi Won-joon left the bases loaded.

Na Gyun-ahn gave up a wild pitch to Han Jun-soo in the eighth inning. Han Jun-soo then hit a two-run double off the right-field fence to make the score 1-8. The pitching coach made one visit to the mound, but after giving up another straight ball to Park Chan-ho in the ninth, Lotte replaced him with Hyun Do-hoon. Hyun struck out the next batter, Seo Gun-chang, to end the inning.

Kia’s onslaught continued. After scoring one more run in the third inning on an RBI single by Na Sung-beom, KIA put together a big inning in the fourth. After the inning started with the bases loaded, KIA scored three runs on consecutive singles by Seo Gun-chang and Socrates. A batter later, Choi Hyung-woo’s hit was mishandled by first baseman Na Seung-yeop, allowing two more runners to reach base. The score was 14-1, a 13-run lead for KIA.

From this point on, however, Lotte’s backbone came into play. In the bottom of the fourth inning, LOTTE capitalized on an error to put runners on second and third with no outs, scoring two runs on an infield grounder by Jung Hoon and a single up the middle by Park Seung-wook. With the bases loaded one out later, Go Seung-min hit a grand slam to score six runs in the inning. Lotte extended the lead to five runs in the fifth inning with runners on second and third on an infield grounder and an RBI single by Hwang Sung-bin.

This would have been the end of the chase, but Lotte stayed focused in the middle innings and eventually turned the game around. In the bottom of the sixth inning, after back-to-back singles by Na Seung-yeop and Lee Jung-hoon against reliever Kim Dae-yoo, No. 7 Jung-hoon took advantage of a wild changeup from Kia’s third pitcher, Kim Do-hyun, and blasted a three-run home run over the left-field fence for a 105-meter drive. With this one hit, LOTTE made the score 12-14.

In the seventh, pinch-hitters Choi Hang and Hwang Sung-bin singled, and a sacrifice bunt by Yoon Dong-hee put the tying run on second base. Kia switched pitchers to left-hander Kwak Do-kyu, but Ko Seung-min singled up the middle to put runners on second and third. Kim Dong-hyuk’s grounder to shortstop was followed by a throwing error by Kwak, putting runners on second and third again. Na Seung-yeop drew a walk and Lee Jung-hoon hit a sacrifice fly to center field, and Lotte finally overcame a 13-run deficit.

But Kia didn’t stand still. In the bottom of the eighth, leadoff hitter Lee Chang-jin singled to right field and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kim Tae-gun. Park Chan-ho struck out the side in the ninth, but Hong Jong-pyo, who had pinch-hit in the seventh inning, hit an RBI single to tie the game at 15-15. The only consolation for Lotte was that right fielder Yoon Dong-hee made a diving catch on Kim Do-young’s well-hit ball with runners on first and third.

Kia had a chance to regain the lead later in the game. In the top of the 10th inning of extra innings, the same pattern as the 8th inning was repeated, with Lee Chang-jin leading off with a walk and Kim Tae-gun laying down a sacrifice bunt, but Park Chan-ho grounded out to shortstop and Hong Jong-pyo struck out looking to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, Lotte led off with a single to right field by No. 5 Na Seung-yeop. Lee Jung-hoon, who had three hits, laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to second. After a single by Oh Sun-jin put runners on first and third, Kia went for the big hit. It worked, as Seo Dong-wook struck out looking and Hwang Sung-bin grounded out to second base to send the game into the 11th inning.

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