PS first round + final game jinx at risk… ‘strong team’ KT shows potential
KT won 3-2 in the 5th game of the playoffs (PO, 3 wins out of 5) against NC Dinos of the 2023 KBO League held at Suwon KT Wiz Park on the 5th. In the bottom of the 5th inning, when the team was down 0-2, with one out and runners on 1st and 3rd, pinch hitter Kim Min-hyuk hit a timely hit to tie the game, and in the bottom of the 6th inning, with the bases loaded and no outs, Byung-ho Park scored an RBI with a ground ball to turn the game around. Afterwards, Pil Seung-jo’s Son Dong-hyun, Park Young-hyun, and Kim Jae-yoon blocked the NC batting line without allowing any runs. KT will play the Korean Series (KS, 4 wins out of 7 games) against the LG Twins starting on the 9th.
KT gave NC the momentum in the early stages of the game. In the defense in the top of the third inning, shortstop Kim Sang-soo was unable to handle the hits of Kim Hyeong-jun and Kim Joo-won that flowed toward the shortstop side with one out. Veteran Kim Sang-soo was also unable to overcome the water-soaked ground that had rained all morning. In this situation, starting pitcher Wes Benjamin allowed a left-field hit to Son Ah-seop and a sacrifice fly to Seo Ho-cheol. Benjamin gave up one more run in the 5th inning after hitting a double to Kim Hyeong-jun, an advanced base hit to Kim Joo-won, and a timely hit to Son A-seop.굿모닝토토
KT changed the atmosphere in the 5th inning. With one out and no runner on base, Seong-Woo Jang hit a double to right, and Sang-Cheol Moon followed up with a hit to left to advance to first and third base. In this situation, pinch hitter Kim Min-hyuk was brought in, and at the end of a full-count game, he hit a double to right against Shin Min-hyuk, bringing both runners home. Coach Lee Kang-cheol’s quick winning strategy worked. After the game, Coach Lee looked back and said, “I didn’t think we would be able to create a chance (to turn things around) if we continued to be dragged down.”
It was more than just one win for both coach Lee Kang-cheol and KT, and it meant more than advancing to KS. This year, if we lost in the first round of the short-term match, or even the final match, we could have been jinxed.
KT also won Game 5 in the semi-PO last season. They ranked 4th in the regular season, defeated KIA Tigers in the first game of the wild card decision, and met 3rd place Kiwoom Heroes in the semi-PO. They lost 4-8 in the first game, but Benjamin pitched 7 scoreless innings in the first game and won 2-0. In the third game, they were again defeated by a score of 2-9, but in the fourth game they won 9-6 after a close battle.
KT, who dragged Jun-PO to the 5th game, lost 3-4 to Kiwoom in the 5th game. Against Kiwoom ace Ahn Woo-jin, they scored two runs in the third inning and took a 2-1 lead, but Benjamin allowed a two-run home run to Song Seong-moon with two outs in the bottom of the fourth inning, allowing a comeback, and then gave up a wild pitch at the plate of Lee Ji-young in the fifth inning with the bases loaded. A reversal was allowed. KT was only able to make up 1 point after that.
In the 2020 season, which was Coach Lee Kang-cheol’s second year in office, KT ranked second in the regular season and advanced to the postseason (PS) for the first time. At the time, they played a PO against Doosan, which was ranked 3rd in the regular season and was the ‘strong team in the fall’, and was eliminated after only 1 win (3 losses).
In 2021, he ranked first in the regular season and won the overall championship in the KS against Doosan with a series record of 4 wins and 0 losses. However, last season allowed Kiwoom to have an upset series again.
This season, he ranked 2nd in the regular season, and took a break on the 19th to recharge his stamina and wait for NC. However, they lost the first and second games. It was the third time in the team’s history that they were eliminated in the first round. They were down 0-2 until the top of the 5th inning of Game 5, and were in danger of losing the final game (Game 5) for the second year in a row. However, the coach was bold, and the players showed their potential at the most important moments. I was able to relieve the pressure and head to the KS stage. This is what the 5th PO game on the 5th means to KT.