Wyverns advance to the big show

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Wyverns advance to the big show


Players and coaches from the Incheon SK Wyverns celebrate their 8-4 win against the Busan Lotte Giants at Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan yesterday. The Wyverns took the second-round playoff series 3-2 and advanced to the Korean Series for their fifth consecutive year. [NEWSIS]

Two home runs from Park Jung-kwon gave the Incheon SK Wyverns a prestigious pass to the Korean Series, beating the Busan Lotte Giants 8-4 in Game 5 of the second-round playoffs in the Korean Professional Baseball League yesterday.

At a packed, 28,500-crowd Sajik Baseball Stadium in Busan, Park hit two-run homers in the top of fourth inning and sixth inning, contributing half of the team’s eight runs against the Giants. The first baseman was also voted the series MVP.

With Park’s performance, the Wyverns took the best-of-five series at 3-2 and advanced to the Korean Series for their fifth consecutive appearance, setting a record in the Korean Baseball Organization.

The team has won three Korean Series titles during the last five years, including last year’s championship.

The Wyverns will now face the Daegu Samsung Lions, the team they swept 4-0 in the best-of-seven series last year. However, it will be the Lions who will have the home-field advantage this time after clinching the regular-season championship.

The Korean Series starts tomorrow at 6 p.m. at Daegu Baseball Stadium.

Since the original Game 5 was canceled due to heavy rain on Saturday, the two teams were able to rest for this do-or-die game and therefore used almost every pitcher in the bullpen.

In fact, a total of 14 pitchers (nine from the Giants) were on the mound in yesterday’s game, but it was the Wyverns who saw the more impressive performance from their pitchers with offensive help from Park.

The Wyverns had a slippery start from the beginning as their lefty starter Kim Kwang-hyun was forced off the mound after giving up an RBI double to Jeon Jun-woo and handed the Giants a 1-0 lead in the bottom of first inning.

While Brian Gordon stepped up to stabilize the mound after Kim, Park started to turn the tables and provided relief for his pitchers from the top of fourth inning. Following a single from Choi Jung, Park, 30, launched a 115-meter (377-foot) home run against Giants starter Song Seung-jun and gave the Wyverns a 2-1 lead.

From there, the Wyverns were able to add another two runs in the following inning, thanks to an RBI single from Park Jae-sang and a wild pitch from the Giants pitcher Christopher Bootcheck, which brought Jeung Keun-woo in to score.

Then it was Park again in the top of sixth inning, launching another two-run home run to make the score 6-1 and take Bootcheck out of the mound. It was Park’s third home run this post season and ninth in his post-season career. The five-run cushion was later reduced to only two when the Giants produced three runs in the bottom of sixth inning. However, the Giants, who were looking for their first Korean Series birth since 1999, couldn’t take the lead back.

By Joo Kyung-don [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]
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