KT Wiz veteran infielder Hwang Jae-gyun washed away his defensive shortcomings with a clean sweep at the plate. The team enjoyed a good Friday night, further fueling their hopes of advancing to the Korean Series.
KT swept the NC Dinos 11-2 in game four of the best-of-five 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO postseason playoffs at Changwon NC Park on Friday. After coming back from the brink with a 3-0 victory in Game 3 the previous day, they swept Game 4 and took the series to a best-of-five series at KT Wiz Park in Anbang, Suwon, on April 5.
KT’s Hwang Jae-gyun started at second and third base on the day, going 2-for-5 with a double, a home run, two RBIs and one run scored. It was his first postseason home run in two years since Game 2 of the 2021 Korean Series against the Doosan Bears.
“At the beginning of the game, I made a bad mistake on defense,” Hwang said in the official postgame interview. “Fortunately, starting pitcher Cuevas did a great job in the bottom of the first inning, so I quickly forgot about it and focused on my chances, which led to the RBI.”
KT took control of the game in the top of the fourth inning, taking a 2-0 lead on Park Byung-ho’s RBI single and Jang Jang-woo’s RBI sacrifice fly to center field.
In the bottom of the first inning, however, NC’s leadoff hitter Park Min-woo singled to center field. KT starting pitcher William Cuevas induced an infield grounder to Park Min-woo, but Hwang Jae-gyun made a throwing error.굿모닝토토 주소
Hwang Jae-gyun made a mistake in the first game of the playoffs on April 30 when he missed Park Min-woo’s ordinary infield grounder, and he couldn’t hide his disappointment as he made an error in the fourth game as well.
It was Cuevas who steadied Hwang Jae-gyun, who could have faltered. After retiring Park Min-woo and Park Gun-woo, Cuevas struck out NC’s No. 4 hitter, Jason Martin, to end the inning without allowing a run.
Hwang Jae-gyun also swung the bat vigorously in his second at-bat, as if he had gotten the burden off his mind. With KT leading 3-0 in the top of the second inning, Hwang hit a two-run double off NC starting pitcher Song Myung-ki to make the score 4-0.
Hwang Jae-gyun’s performance continued. With KT leading 6-0 in the top of the fourth inning, Hwang led off with a solo home run off NC’s second pitcher, Lee Jae-hak. On a two-ball, Hwang took Lee’s three-pitch 118-kilometer changeup straight up the middle for a 125-meter shot over the left field fence. KT took full control of the game with Hwang’s home run and sealed the victory.
“In the home run at-bat, the count was two balls, so I thought I shouldn’t miss if I got a pitch for a strike,” Hwang said. “I was focusing a little bit on my changeup, but when the pitch came in, I took it well, which led to a good result.”
“I’ve been hitting well since the start of the playoffs, but it hasn’t translated into results,” he said. “I had good at-bats in Game 3 the day before and Game 4 today, so I’m confident that I’ll be able to approach the upcoming games in a good mood.”
Hwang has done his part in the regular season, batting .295 (120-for-407) with six home runs, 49 RBIs and a 0.779 OPS in 109 games. Hwang’s contributions have been instrumental in KT’s leap to second place after a rough start to the season that saw them fall to the bottom of the standings.
When KT suffered unexpected back-to-back losses in Games 1 and 2 of the playoffs, Hwang provided leadership among the juniors to keep the team’s spirits up. In Game 4, he was even a fixer on the field.
“Before Game 3, I told the players that since we lost two games anyway, it would be better to play with a relaxed mindset,” said Hwang Jae-gyun. “Even if we lose Game 3, it’s not like we’ve lost anything this season, having come from last place to second place. We told them to have fun and enjoy it because we are a strong team, and I’m very happy that we won the third and fourth games.”
“I told the juniors to take it easy because we needed to change the atmosphere and I meant it,” he said, adding, “Even if we lose in the playoffs, it doesn’t take away what we did well this year. KT is a strong team, so I told them not to worry (about dropping the series).”
KT manager Lee Kang-cheol also said, “Hwang Jae-gyun is trying to do really well. He batted well in the fourth game today, and I’m glad to see his face brightened up.”
Meanwhile, KT and NC will play Game 5 of the playoffs on May 5 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon for a ticket to the Korean Series. In the history of the KBO playoffs (best-of-three series, excluding the 1999-2000 Doubleheader (1995-2008-2021)), teams that won Games 1 and 2 had an 88.2% (15-of-17) chance of advancing to the Korean Series.
There have been two instances where a team that lost Games 1 and 2 went on to win Games 3-5 and reach the Korean Series. The first playoff “reverse sweep” occurred in 1996 when the Hyundai Unicorns (disbanded in 2008) defeated the Ssangbangul Raiders.
In 2009, the SK Wyverns (now the SSG Landers) dropped Games 1 and 2 to the Doosan Bears, but rallied to win Games 3 through 5 to reach the Korean Series.
If KT wins Game 5 of the playoffs, it will be the third reverse sweep in KBO history.