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Wyverns inch closer to Korean Series win

The Bears need victory tonight if they want to stay in contention
Nov 12,2018
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Park Jung-kwon of the SK Wyverns clenches his fist after making a timely hit to earn one run at the bottom of the 8th inning in the 5th game of the Korean Series against the Doosan Bears on Saturday. As the SK Wyverns won Game 5, they are now just one game away from the championship title. [NEWS1]
Severe air pollution didn’t stop the fans from turning out to support their favorite teams in the Korean Series over the weekend.

With the completion of the Incheon-leg of the series, the SK Wyverns are now just one game away from the championship title, leading the Doosan Bears by three games to two on Sunday.

After a day off on Thursday due to rain, the Bears came back fighting during the rescheduled Game 4 on Friday, winning 2-1 to square the series record. During the game, the Bears had a come-from-behind victory with Jung Soo-bin’s two-run home run in the eighth inning.

But it was the Wyverns’ day on Saturday. With the Incheon air heavy with smog, the Wyverns came from behind to beat the Bears and move one step closer to Korean Series victory. Surprisingly, Saturday’s game was the first win that the Wyverns have had in the postseason without hitting a single home run.

The Bears were the first to take the lead at the top of the third inning after Jung Jin-ho hit a solo home run. It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Wyverns started to rally, with Kim Sung-hyun hitting a two-base hit off of Bears’ starter Seth Frankoff to tie the score at 1-1. Once Frankoff left the mound, the Wyverns’ Kim Kang-min managed to bring Kim Sung-hyun home to take the lead 2-1.

The Wyverns got another chance at the bottom of the eighth inning. After Kim Jae-ho missed Choi Jeong’s fly, Park Jung-kwon added a run for the Wyverns with a two-base hit. Then, when the bases were fully loaded, the Bears’ Kim Seung-hoe gave away a walk to Kim Seung-hyun to allow the Wyverns to add another run to the scoreboard.

At the top of the ninth inning, the Bears had a chance with runners on first and the second base and only one out, but they weren’t able to produce a base hit and the Wyverns walked away with a 4-1 victory.

“I know I’ve made headlines in the postseason for all the wrong reasons,” Kim Sung-hyun was quoted as saying on Yonhap. “But this is probably the first time I am getting attention for something positive.”

With a hit, a run and two RBIs, Kim Sung-hyun was named MVP after the game. As the Wyverns starter Park Jong-hoon had a no-decision game, Kim Tae-hoon picked up a win and Jung Young-il picked up a save, while Frankoff picked up a loss, after giving up two runs in six and one third of an inning with a 1.42 ERA.

Game 5 on Saturday once again had a sellout crowd of 25,000. This is the 19th consecutive sellout game since the 2015 Korean Series.

A loss will no longer be an option for the Bears in the best-of-seven Korean Series. Although the Bears played through the majority of its regular season without a foreign player at bat, the team has been struggling since Game 3 of the Korean Series with the absence of clean-up hitter and outfielder Kim Jae-hwan. Kim felt pain in his right side while warming up ahead of Game 3 and was diagnosed with damage to the external oblique muscle on his right side. Due to this, Kim is unlikely to play again this year.

The Bears’ ace pitcher Josh Lindblom said Kim’s absence won’t be too much trouble for the team, but the results tell a different story. Although the Bears won Game 3, they have been struggling to score.

In Game 6 today, the Wyverns will start Merill Kelly while the Bears are likely to start Lee Yong-chan once again.

When the two started in Game 2 on Wednesday, Kelly was the winning pitcher as the Wyverns won the game 7-2. During the game, Kelly tossed seven scoreless innings while Lee gave up four runs in six and two thirds innings.

Game 6 of the Korean Series, possibly the last game of the year, will be back at Jamsil Stadium in southern Seoul today at 6:30 p.m. If the Wyverns win, it will be the first time since 2010 that they have won the Korean Series. The Bears most recent championship title was in 2016.

BY KIM HYO-KYUNG, KANG YOO-RIM [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]