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The NC Dinos, who were advancing with great spirit, were eventually unable to overcome the physical burden and ended their fall baseball challenge in the playoffs (PO, best-of-five series).
NC lost 2-3 to KT Wiz in the 5th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank Sol KBO PO held at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on the 5th.
As a result, NC was eliminated from PO with a series record of 2 wins and 3 losses. Three years after winning the combined championship in 2020, the dream of advancing to the Korean Series (KS, best of 7 games) also came to nothing.
After entering the all-loss postseason (PS), they won all 6 games, but after losing the 3rd game of the PO, their winning streak was cut off, and they suffered 3 consecutive losses and were eliminated.
Although they were unable to advance to KS, NC is evaluated to have done well this season.
Ahead of this season, not many people classified NC as a top 5 candidate. Yang Eui-ji (Doosan Bears) and Noh Jin-hyuk (Lotte Giants), who qualified as free agents after completing the 2022 season, left the team, weakening its strength.
In addition, foreign pitcher Taylor Widener was unable to take the mound for nearly two months after the opening due to a back injury, and foreign hitter Jason Martin suffered an internal oblique muscle injury in early April and was out of action for about a month.
To make matters worse, local left-handed ace Koo Chang-mo virtually ended the season after last June due to muscle damage and stress fractures.
However, NC consistently maintained its place in the top 5 in harmony between old and new.
The presence of special ace Eric Peddie was remarkable. He led the NC starting lineup by achieving the pitcher triple crown with 20 wins, 6 losses, an ERA of 2.00, and 209 strikeouts.
In the bullpen, Kim Young-gyu established himself as a reliable man with an ERA of 3.06 over 24 holds, and Jin-wook Ryu recorded an ERA of 2.15 over 22 holds. Veteran Lee Yong-chan (29 saves) was responsible for the backdoor.
The batting lineup led by veterans Son Ah-seop, Park Min-woo, and Park Geon-woo was not well structured. In particular, Son Ah-seop ranked first in batting and with the most hits, recording a batting average of 0.339 and 187 hits.
NC had the most advantage in the battle for third place at the end of the season, but lost third place to SSG Landers and took fourth place.
However, the drama was written in earnest on the fall baseball stage.
The atmosphere right before the end of the regular season was not very good, and special ace Peddy left with a forearm injury, so they were assessed as being objectively behind in terms of power, but they beat Doosan Bears in the wild card game and SSG in the semi-playoffs (semi-PO, best-of-five). Defeated Landers one after another.
In particular, they continued their advance with 3 consecutive wins against SSG, who took 3rd place and earned a break.
A crazy player appeared in every game.
In the wild card game, Seo Ho-cheol hit a grand slam and had 6 RBIs, and Kim Hyeong-jun hit two home runs. As the young players faltered, veterans Son Ah-seop and Park Geon-woo performed well in the first and second semi-PO games.
In the third game of the semi-PO, Martin was reborn as a hero by shooting a 3-pointer immediately after being down 3-5. After being hit with bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning, they achieved a come-from-behind victory. NC was the first team to win despite allowing a grand slam in PS.
Even in PO, the dinosaurs' advance was unstoppable.
KT, who returned from injury and won the game with a great pitching performance, allowing 1 run in 6 innings, won 3-2 with Shin Min-hyuk pitching perfectly in 6 ⅓ innings, allowing 1 hit and no runs in 6⅓ innings, pushing KT to the brink.
From the 4th game of KS in 2020, when they won the combined championship, to the 2nd game of PO this year, they ran a 9-game winning streak at PS, matching the record for the most consecutive wins in PS set by the Haitai Tigers from 1987 to 1988.
However, in the battle for rankings at the end of the regular season, the physical burden accumulated while going through PS gradually showed itself in the performance.
PO The batting line, which had been on the decline since the second game, failed to score a single point in the third game. In Game 4, KT starter William Cuevas was tied with a no-hitter until 2 outs in the 6th inning.
NC coach Kang In-kwon adjusted the batting order in Game 5, but he was still unable to use his strength.
The bullpen continued to be unable to withstand the physical burden, and NC ended the season by allowing a reverse sweep to KT.
After the loss in Game 5 of PO, Coach Kang looked back and said, "Our team players did their best with passion. However, I am disappointed that we were unable to maintain our advantage and had a poor finish. It is unfortunate that we were unable to overcome our physical inferiority."
He continued, "Although we were underrated before the season, our players showed passion with one mind and one will. Although the end was disappointing, we had a good season," and added, "I think this season was a happy journey and a beautiful challenge."
Wednesday, November 8, 2023