The KT Wiz of the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO) completed a “reverse sweep” to punch their ticket to the highly anticipated Korean Series.
KT Wiz defeated the NC Dinos 3-2 in Game 5 of the best-of-five 2023 Korean Baseball Playoffs at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do, on Friday.
After dropping Games 1 and 2, KT won Games 3, 4, and 5 to advance to the Korean Series with a 3-2 series lead.
KT is only the third team in history to advance to the Korean Series after losing two straight games in the best-of-five playoffs, joining the Hyundai Unicorns in 1996 and the SK Wyverns (now SSG Landers) in 2009.
KT will now face the regular-season champion LG Twins in the best-of-seven Korean Series on April 7.
Lee Kang-cheol makes bold substitutions and pitching changes
In Game 5, where both teams fought to the death, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol’s strategy shone through. Down 0-2 after a no-hitter through four innings, KT had runners on first and third in the bottom of the fifth after Jang Jang-woo doubled and Moon Sang-chul singled to left.
Manager Lee Kang-cheol pulled Oh Yoon-seok and brought in left-handed hitter Kim Min-hyuk, who hit a two-run double to tie the game at 2-2. Kim has emerged as KT’s “joker” in the playoffs, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs in his only at-bats.
In the top of the sixth inning, starter Wes Benjamin, who had only given up two runs, was hit by a pitch to leadoff hitter Park Gun-woo and a wild pitch to the next batter, Kwon Hee-dong, prompting the decision to bring in reliever Son Dong-hyun.
Son lived up to expectations, getting Jason Martin to fly out to center field and Oh to ground out to short to end the inning without allowing a run.
In the top of the seventh inning, Son faced a double by Son Ah-seob, but this time he trusted his command and pushed through. He got Seo Ho-cheol to fly out to right field and earned the win as KT completed the comeback.
Furthermore, Son was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for his flawless relief performance in the playoffs with a 1-0 record and a zero earned run average in all games, making his relief appearances a new part of KT’s success equation. 토토사이트
On the other hand, NC, which had high hopes of advancing to the Korean Series after taking Games 1 and 2, was unable to overcome its physical disadvantage and ended up losing Games 3, 4, and 5.
After finishing the regular season in fourth place, the team defeated the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears in the wild-card decider, the first gateway to fall baseball, and then defied expectations in the semifinals, pulling off an “upset” by sweeping the third-ranked SSG Landers in three games.
NC’s surge seemed to continue into the playoffs. However, the batting lineup, which had been the driving force behind their winning streak, slumped, and the bullpen faltered, ultimately failing to overcome the solid performance of regular season runner-up KT.