The magic of 3 wins in a row after 2 losses
The magic of 3 wins in a row after 2 losses… KT heads to Korea Series with ‘drama’
A tired NC burned its last spark, but KT extinguished it with the magic of the ‘reverse sweep’. KT came from behind to beat NC 3-2 in Game 5 of the best-of-five 2023 Korean Baseball Playoffs on Friday, advancing to the Korean Series with a 3-2 series lead. Three straight wins after two losses. It was a miraculous comeback drama. This is only the third time in the history of the playoffs that KT has won three straight games after dropping Game 1 or 2. Hyundai in 1996 (against Ssangbangul) and SK in 2009 (against Doosan) accomplished the feat first. KT will now take on regular-season champion LG in a best-of-seven Korean Series starting on Sunday. 먹튀검증 It will be their second trip to the Korean Series after winning in 2021.
After a six-game winning streak starting with the Wild Card Series, NC’s momentum stalled in Games 3-4. Stamina was an issue. “I couldn’t even lift a spoon,” said Ha So-yeon (NC’s Son As-seob), but the team showed its fighting spirit in the fifth and final game of the day. The eldest brother, Son As-seob (35), went 3-for-4 with an RBI to give the team a 2-0 lead.
This is where KT manager Lee Kang-cheol, who won the 2021 regular season and Korean Series combined title, shined. Down 0-2 in the bottom of the fifth inning. NC starting pitcher Shin Min-hyuk (24) had held the KT bats in check until the fourth inning. One out later, Jang Jang-woo (33) came to the plate. He broke through the clog with a double down the right field line. The next batter, Moon Sang-chul (32), followed with a single to right. It was now 1-3 with one out. A chance to tilt the game further. Lee made a bold decision to pinch-hit for left fielder Kim Min-hyuk (28), who was batting .500 in the series, instead of Oh Yoon-seok (31), who had a thigh injury. “It was getting close, so I felt like if I missed that opportunity, it might not come back,” he explained. He trusted the data, having gone 4-for-11 with one home run and four RBIs against Shin in the regular season. And as if to reward his faith, Shin took a low changeup on a full count and smashed a two-run, game-tying double down the right-field line. Kim Min-hyuk was immediately replaced by a pinch-hitter (Lee Sang-ho) after hitting the game-winning hit.
The manager’s brilliance continued with the next pitching change
Wes Benjamin (30), who had pitched relatively well (5 innings, 1 earned run), was hit by NC Park Gun-woo (33) in the top of the sixth inning and threw a fastball to the next batter, Kwon Hee-dong (33), who promptly sent Son Dong-hyun (22) to the mound. “I felt like I couldn’t throw my own ball in the sixth inning because I had four days off, so I thought it would be better to have a bullpen battle,” Lee said. Son retired the first two batters he faced in the sixth inning on a sacrifice bunt, and in the seventh, he gave up a double to Son Ah-seob, but got Seo Ho-cheol (27) to fly out to the outfield to end the inning. KT scored its final run in the sixth when Park Byung-ho (37) singled with the bases loaded on two hits and a walk, scoring Kim Sang-soo (33) from third base. After Son Dong-hyun, Park Young-hyun (eighth) and Kim Jae-yoon (ninth) each pitched one inning of scoreless relief to preserve the one-run victory.
Lee sent out his entire starting lineup from Game 1 regardless of the outcome, except for closer Kim Jae-yoon. The idea was to let them regain their senses after a long break. He also calculated that if he dropped Games 1 and 2, but took Game 3, he could fully utilize his bullpen for the rest of the game and write the upset drama. The plan worked, as KT won Games 3-4 in Changwon with strong pitching from Ko Young-pyo (32) and Cuevas (33), and in Game 5, they sent out four of their best pitchers to complete the sweep in 2 hours and 51 minutes.
Son was on the mound for all five games of the playoffs and was named the series MVP after posting a 7-1 record with seven scoreless innings and one walk. “When we lost the first two games, my arm was sore the next day, but when we won, I didn’t feel that and wanted to keep going,” he said. “At the end of the season, when Park Young-hyun went to the Hangzhou Asian Games, I took over as the setup man in front of the closer, and the confidence I gained from that helped me in this series,” he added.
Fourth-ranked NC saw its six-game postseason winning streak come to an end with three straight losses
Eric Peddy, 30, who won the regular season pitching trifecta (wins, ERA, and strikeouts), picked up the win in Game 1 but was unable to finish Game 5 as he was unable to find his form. The bats, which scored 44 runs (7.3 runs per game) during the six-game winning streak, scored just five runs (an average of 1.6 runs per game) in the three straight losses. “The players tried their best with enthusiasm, but in the end, we couldn’t overcome the physical disadvantage,” said NC head coach Kang Myung-hyun. “We finished the season in fourth place, which was evaluated as the last place candidate, and we feel rewarded for discovering many future resources.”