SK Wyverns win third title in four years!
INCHEON / DAEGU (Korea) -
Before the professional seasons in the USA and Canada (Major League) and Japan (Nippon Professional Baseball) were closed with their chanmpionship series, the professional season in Korea ended on October 19.
On that date, the SK Wyverns captured the title by completing a 4-game sweep in the Korean Series.
For the Wyverns, which were founded in 2000 and have their home in Incheon, this was their third title in four years.
After winning the championship in 2007 and 2008, they again reached the final last year, but then were beaten 4-3 in the best-of-seven by Kia Tigers.
This year, the Wyverns dominated, led the league since April 18 and finished in first place in the regular season and therefore automatically qualified for the Korean Series.
In the first round of the Play-Offs, third placed Doosan Bears won the best-of-five vs. fourth placed Lotte Giants 3-2.
In the next round, the Bears were beaten 3-2 by the Samsung Lions, which finished in second place, with all games finishing in one-run scores.
And so, the Lions became the second finalist.
A close series was expected, as the Wyverns won 10 of the 19 games played against the Lions in the regular season.
But in the end, the Wyverns also dominated in the final and won four games in a row.
In Korea, the first professional season opened in 1982, the same year when the country organized the World Championship in capital Seoul.
That baseball is one of the most popular sports in Korea was underscored by an attendance record, as almost 6 million fans visited the games during the regular season.
Game 1 - Friday, October 15 - Munhak Baseball Stadium - Incheon
In the opener, the SK Wyverns defeated the Samsung Lions 9-5 after trailing briefly in the fifth inning.
The Lions collected only five basehits, while the Wyverns had eleven.
In the first and third inning, the Wyverns scored two runs on two errors.
In the first, lead-off hitter Keun-woo Jung reached on an error and scored on two singles, then in the third, Joo-hwan Na singled and advanced on a failed pick-off, before scoring on a sacrifice fly.
After the Wyverns left the bases loaded in the fourth inning, the Lions came back with three runs in the top of the fifth inning.
Wyverns-starter Kwang-hyun Kim had a very strong start, as he struckout eight of the first nine batters he faced, including six in a row, which was a new Korean Series-record.
But in the fifth, he lost some concentration.
He walked Kab-yong Jib, then gave up a double to Myung-chul Shin and loaded the bases by walking another batter.
Jib then scored on a sacrifice fly and Shin scored the tying run on a wild pitch.
Next, Han-yi Park singled to give the Lions a 3-2 lead and that marked the end for Kim.
But in the home of the fifth, the Lions also ran into problems.
Manager Dong-ryul Sun, once the best pitcher in Korea, brought four relievers to the mound in this at bat, but the Wyverns scored three runs and re-took the lead.
American starter Tim Redding walked lead-off hitter Keun-woo Jung and was replaced by Hyuk Kwon, who then walked the next hitter and also was replaced.
But the next two relievers, Oh-joon Kwon and Seung-hwan Oh, gave up three runs, with the latter giving up a 2-run single to Jae-hyun Kim, that made it 5-3.
Hyun-wook Jung, the fifth pitcher in this at bat, finally ended the inning.
The Lions got one run back in the sixth when Bong-kyu Kang homered, but in the home of the sixth, the Wyverns rallied for four runs to increase their lead to 9-4, highlighted by a 2-run homerun by Jung-kwon Park and an RBI-double by Jae-hyun Kim.
The Lions had only one more run left and that was scored in the eighth when Suk-min Park homered.
Game 2 - Saturday, October 16 - Munhak Baseball Stadium - Incheon
The next day, the Wyverns won 4-1, scoring all runs on homeruns, but again trailed briefly.
In the second inning, the Lions scored once, while the Wyverns were held scoreless for three innings by starting pitcher Woo-chan Cha.
But in the fourth inning, Jeong Choi hit a 2-run homerun off Cha to give the Wyverns a 2-1 lead.
In the sixth inning, Choi homered again off Cha to make it 3-1.
With this, Choi became the youngest player ever (23 years, 230 days) to hit two homeruns in a Korean Series-game, breaking the record of 27 years and 68 days.
In the eighth inning, catcher Kyung-oan Park added a solo-homerun with one out off reliever Wyuk Kwon and also set a record.
With his 38 years and 97 days, Park became the oldest player to hit a homerun in a Korean Series, breaking the record of 36 years and 43 days.
The Wyverns used five pitchers in this game, who gave up only five basehits.
Game 3 - Monday, October 18 - Daegu Baseball Stadium - Daegu
In Game 3, the Wyverns led the game from the beginning and went on to win 4-2 to take a 3-0 lead in the Series.
In the first inning, the Wyverns scored two runs.
With runners on first and third base and one out, a grounder by Ho-jun Lee gave the Wyverns their first run.
A hit batter and single then loaded the bases.
Next, Lions-starter Young-soo Bae walked Jae-hyun Kim to bring in another run.
In the home off the first, the Lions scored once off Japanese starter Ken Kadokura, who had won 14 games and struckout 143 in the regular season, but wasn't in his best form tonight.
He walked five batters and was relieved in the third inning after giving a lead-off double to Hyung-woo Choi.
Wyverns-Manager Sung-keun Kim changed his pitchers frequently in this game, using six in total.
Kim is known for his frequent use of relievers, as soon as the opponent get runners in scoring positions or when his pitchers appeared to get into problems.
And again his tactics of changing pitchers quickly worked, as the Lions were held scoreless for seven innings after they scored the run in the first.
But after scoring twice in the first at bat, the Wyverns also were held scoreless for six innings, but then added two important insurance runs in the eighth inning on a double by Jung-kwon Park and sacrifice fly by Jeong Choi.
The Lions scored their second run in the ninth on a wild pitch by reliever Eun-beom Song.
Game 4 - Tuesday, October 19 - Daegu Baseball Stadium - Daegu
In Game 4, the Wyverns again won 4-2 to claim the championship title and close a very well-visited postseason.
Initially, starting pitchers Gary Glover (Wyverns) and Won-sam Jang (Lions) threw three strong innings, giving up no runs.
But in the top of the fourth inning, the Wyverns struck with three runs.
With the bases loaded, Jang walked Kyung-wan Park, resulting in the first run, and then gave up a 2-run double to Jung-kwon Park that made it 3-0.
In the sixth, Kyung-wan Park added an RBI-double to lift the lead to 4-0.
The Lions scored their first run in the eighth inning.
Leading 4-0, Wyverns-Manager Sung-keun Kim brought his ace pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim (17 wins in the season) to the mound.
He then gave up a run, but finished the inning with two strikeouts.
The Lions added another run in the ninth, but were left empty-handed in the end.
Jung-kwon Park was named the MVP of the Korean Series with a .455 batting average and six RBI's.