The NC Dinos swept the KT Wiz in the first round of the best-of-five (PO) baseball playoffs to complete a five-game winning streak in fall baseball this year.
NC pounded opposing starter William Cuevas for 13 hits and took control of the game with a 9-5 victory over KT in Game 1 of the PO-5 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Postseason, which kicked off at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday.
NC has a 78 percent chance of advancing to the Korean Series and will play Game 2 of the PO at the same venue on May 31.
The winner of Game 1 has advanced to the Korean Series 25 out of 32 times in the history of the best-of-five PO, which was played until last year.
KT has announced foreign left-handed pitcher Wes Benjamin and NC has announced right-hander Shin Min-hyuk as their starting pitchers for Game 2.
After entering the postseason in fourth place in the regular season, NC continued its surge through the wild-card game (1 win), the semifinals (3 wins), and then the first round of the playoffs with a five-game winning streak.
NC’s Eric Peddy, who led the league in wins (20), ERA (2.00), and strikeouts (209) this season, and Cuevas, who was the winningest pitcher in the league (100% win percentage), went head-to-head in the first game, with Peddy getting the win.
After two weeks of rehabilitation following a diagnosed bruise on his right forearm from a straight hit by Ko Jong-wook in the regular season against the KIA Tigers on April 16, the three-time NC pitching champion pitched six innings of three-hit shutout baseball in his first appearance in 14 days, setting a new PO record for most strikeouts in a single game (12 – previously 11).
Pedi was named the day’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) and earned a $100,000 prize.
NC dominated KT, who were playing their first game in 20 days, on offense with a high level of concentration and a keen sense of the game.
Having clinched second place early, KT was ready for the postseason after finishing their final regular season game on the 10th, but two crucial errors and poor defense cost them the win on this day.
NC opened the scoring in the first inning with a leadoff single to right-center by Son Ah-seop, a double to left-center by Park Min-woo to put runners on second and third, and a sacrifice fly to left field by Jason Martin.
With a 1-0 lead in the second, leadoff hitter Oh Young-soo drove a 149-mile-per-hour fastball off Cuevas’ stomach for a solo arch that landed in the left-center field stands.
After taking control of the game, NC piled on the runs in the third and fourth innings, taking advantage of KT’s mistakes to stamp their dinosaur footprints deep and clear on the road to victory.
After a high fly ball from leadoff hitter Park Min-woo was missed at the last second by KT third baseman Hwang Jae-gyun, Park Geon-woo came to the plate with the bases loaded and smashed an RBI double that went like a bullet past Hwang and rolled into left field.
Martin followed with a grounder to first and third, and Kwon Hee-dong mocked the advancing KT infield for a priority hit to make it 4-0.
After KT rallied with a leadoff solo home run by Moon Sang-cheol in the seventh, NC pulled Cuevas off the mound with a “big inning” (four or more runs in one inning) in the fourth, effectively sealing the game.
Kim Hyung-jun drew a leadoff walk, and after Kim Joo-won followed with a single, Cuevas made a bad throw to the shortstop, giving NC runners on first and second with no outs.
With Son at bat, Cuevas gave up a one-base hit to put runners on second and third.
Son knocked Cuevas down with a single to right field.
Park Min-woo followed with a walk to load the bases, and with two outs, Kwon Hee-dong drove in a run with a triple to right-center off KT’s second pitcher Uhm Sang-baek to make it 6-1.
KT’s Choi Byeong-dae tried to chase it down, but couldn’t get it in his glove. The official scorer recorded it as a triple by Kwon Hee-dong, not an error.
Cuevas, who was sent out by KT as the must-win pitcher, was an unblemished 12-0 in the regular season, but on this day, he gave up seven runs (four earned) on six hits, including one home run, and two walks in three innings to suffer his first loss of the season at a crucial stage.
NC scored its ninth run in the top of the ninth inning when Oh Young-soo singled up the middle.
Kwon Hee-dong had three RBIs and Park Gun-woo and Oh Young-soo each had two.
KT took some consolation in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run home run by Choi Jae-dae.
The game was attended by 16,241 fans at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, just shy of a full house (17,600). 슬롯사이트