SUWON, South Korea: Following an impressive performance by a teammate the previous day, 24-year-old NC Dinos starter Shin Min-hyeok took the mound on Tuesday night against the KT Wiz in a Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason game. With only his second career postseason start, Shin led his team closer to the championship round by pitching 6 1/3 shutout innings in a 3-2 victory.
According to Yonhap News Agency, Shin's performance came on the heels of teammate Erick Fedde's 12-strikeout game in a 9-5 win.
Shin's approach to the game was considerably different than Fedde's. While Fedde dominated with strikeouts, Shin focused on efficiency, recording just two strikeouts and inducing a series of soft outs, including six infield pop flies, three groundouts, one soft lineout, and three routine outfield flies.
The KT Wiz hitters struggled against Shin's pitch selection, swinging early in the count and failing to adjust to his 35 changeups and 28 cutters. Although his four-seam fastball topped out at only 144 kilometers per hour, the Wiz hitters were often late on those pitches, especially after being set up by effective changeups.
With only 50 pitches through five innings and 67 through six, Shin returned to the mound in the seventh with the Dinos leading 3-0. A potential double play was missed due to second baseman Park Min-woo dropping a relay throw. This ended Shin's night, but reliever Ryu Jin-wook secured the double play to end the inning.
The Wiz attempted a late-game rally, scoring two runs in the eighth and loading the bases in the ninth. However, an exceptional diving catch by shortstop Kim Ju-won secured the Dinos' narrow win.
Following the game, Shin attributed his success to strong command of the changeup and getting ahead in the count. "I threw a lot of strikes on first pitches," Shin stated. Dinos manager Kang In-kwon commended Shin as a "big-game pitcher," a designation that Shin hesitated to fully embrace. "I don't know. I've never been in the postseason until this year," he said.
Despite having a low pitch count, Shin was pulled from the game in favor of bullpen reliability. "In a game like this, I trusted my bullpen to take care of the rest," he added. With this performance, Shin maintained his flawless postseason run, having not allowed a single run in his two career postseason starts.
The win puts the NC Dinos just one victory away from reaching the Korean Series, a reality that Shin admits hasn't fully sunk in. "It hasn't dawned on me yet that we're so close to playing in the Korean Series," he said.