The team that dominates in the first innings wins the game. The KT Wiz and the NC Dinos have found a recipe for success this fall baseball season: They score first and then rely on strong relief pitching.
The KT Wiz defeated the NC Dinos 3-0 in Game 3 of the best-of-three (PO-5) 2023 KBO League postseason playoffs on Sunday at NC Park in Changwon. The first win after two straight losses kept their Korean Series (KS-5 best-of-three) hopes alive.
The KT bats scored for the first time in three fall baseball games before NC. To start the second inning, Choi Sung-ho led off with a single and the No. 8 hitter took a slider from opposing starter Tanner Tully and hit a two-run blast over the left-field fence. It was his second homer of the series after a grand slam in the ninth inning of Game 1 of the PO on the 30th of last month.
The KT bullpen was also strong and defended the lead. Son Dong-hyun in the seventh, Park Young-hyun in the eighth and Kim Jae-yoon in the ninth dominated the NC bats and did not allow them to get into scoring position. They backed up starter Ko Young-pyo, who saved the day with six scoreless innings.굿모닝토토
Before the game, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “The middle pitchers are good. If the batters score early, it’s hard for the opponent to turn the tide,” adding, “I hope the starters can hold on. Ko Young-pyo has a good fastball, so I trust him.” From the second inning on, the game went Lee’s way, giving KT their first win of the series.
The same goes for NC, which has now won six straight postseason games. In the second game of the PO against KT on the 31st of last month, No. 3 hitter Park Gun-woo opened the scoring with a thunderous home run in the first inning, and in the first game the day before, consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a solo run by Oh Young-soo in the second inning gave them the lead. Substitutes Kim Young-gyu and Ryu Jin-wook then put together an iron two-hitter before closer Lee Yong-chan sealed the deal.
Lee said, “We were in a hurry to score first. “We quickly took our starting pitcher out of the game and added Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun, who have good pitches, but unfortunately we couldn’t score the last run,” Lee said.
NC continued this formula in the semi-finals, winning three games. The first game against SSG Landers was won with a leadoff homerun in the eighth inning, the second game was won with three consecutive hits in the first inning, and the third game was won with seven runs in the first and second innings. Kim Young-kyu (1 win, 2 holds), Ryu Jin-wook (3 holds) and Lee Yong-chan (2 saves) have pitched side-by-side in all three games to keep the streak alive.
The problem, however, is that NC’s stamina has taken its toll after seven games in the postseason. Lee Yong-chan has allowed runs in each game, and Kim Young-kyu has lost his control. Rest in the batter’s box is also a problem. “We’ve played a lot of big games and it’s not only hard on us physically, but mentally as well. Our concentration is also limited,” he said, adding, “Apart from Lee Yong-chan, we don’t have a solid batsman. We need Martin and Seo Ho-cheol to help us because our striking power is also at a low point.