KT clinched a direct playoff berth in the final game of the regular season.
KT won 5-4 against Doosan at KT Wiz Park in Suwon on Tuesday. After trading one-run leads and tying the game, KT won the game with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning on a wild pitch. With the win, KT, which played its 144th game of the regular season, clinched second place in the standings with 79 wins, three draws, and 62 losses, regardless of the results of the other teams’ remaining games, and punched its ticket directly to the playoffs.
After falling to the bottom of the standings at the start of the season due to injuries to key players, KT has been on the rise since June, climbing all the way up to second place and never dropping from there until the end of the season, nearly two months after first taking second place on August 19. The miraculous run earned them a spot in the postseason for the fourth straight year starting in 2020.
The characteristic of KT’s races this season, where the team never gives up even when they are behind and chases with a strong mound and turns the game around, continued in the final game.
Substitute starter Choi Jo-hyun gave up a single and a double to the first two batters in the top of the first inning and scored on Yang Seok-hwan’s grounder to shortstop with no outs. KT tied the game in the bottom of the second against Doosan starter Choi Seung-yong. After leadoff hitter Park Byung-ho drew a walk and Jang Jang-woo singled to center field, Lee Seong-ho singled to tie the game at 1-1 with runners on first and second.
KT made a pitching change to Kang Geon-jeon in the top of the third inning. After that, the bullpen all pitched well. Kang gave up a run in the top of the fourth inning on a single by Park Jun-young, but the middle relievers of Lee Sang-dong, Son Dong-hyun, and Park Young-hyun kept the game scoreless. Park Young-hyun, who came back from the Asian Games to be a key member of the pitching staff, put runners on first and second with no outs in the top of the seventh inning and used his strong stuff to get out of a jam with an infield single and a fielder’s choice to keep the game scoreless until the top of the eighth.
Then, trailing 1-2 in the bottom of the eighth, KT rallied. Doosan started with Choi Seung-yong, who pitched five innings of one-run ball, followed by Kim Myung-shin, Kim Kang-ryul, Hong Gun-hee, and Chung Chul-won. KT tied the game in the bottom of the eighth against Hong Gun-hee. After leadoff hitter Jang Jang-woo drew a walk, pinch-hitter Park Kyung-soo singled and Doosan catcher Yang Yang-ji’s fastball put runners on second and third, prompting Doosan to bring in closer Jeong Chul-won. However, the ninth man brought both runners home with a double to left field.
KT didn’t finish well either. Trailing 3-2, they sent closer Kim Jae-yoon to the mound for the top of the ninth, but this time he was blown out. After giving up a leadoff triple to Jung Soo-bin and a double to Yang Seok-hwan at third to tie the game at 3-3, he gave up an infield grounder that sent the pinch runner to third and then a wild pitch to make it a 3-4 game.
In the bottom of the ninth, however, the KT bats refused to give up. After leadoff hitter Hwang Jae-gyun immediately tied the game at 4-4 with a solo home run to center field, Park Byung-ho and Lee Ho-yeon followed with back-to-back singles. Kang Baek-ho grounded out to second base to load the bases with one out, and when KT brought in Moon Sang-chul to pinch-hit, Doosan loaded the bases with an automatic double play.
With two outs, No. 8 Kang Hyun-woo came to the plate. KT, which had already pinch-hit for Kim Jun-tae and had no catcher left in the lineup, kept Kang at the plate. However, the pitch from Doosan’s Chung Chul-won, the pitcher for the bases-loaded game, was not working. Unexpectedly, four pitches in a row were hit straight down the line, scoring Kang Hyun-woo and giving KT the 5-4 victory.
KT manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “The players had a strong will to secure their place in the standings. We had a difficult start to the season, finishing last, but we won the last game to secure second place. It was a magical season. The players, coaching staff, support staff, and front of house did a great job, and I would like to thank all the employees of the Group for their interest and support. Most of all, I want to thank our fans for their loyal support throughout the season. We will prepare well for the postseason and show a good performance.”
KT’s players held a postseason departure ceremony in front of the home crowd immediately after the final game 바카라사이트 to celebrate their direct qualification for the playoffs and to strengthen their resolve for a good result.
Doosan, on the other hand, fell from third to fifth place. SSG and NC, who were tied for fourth without a win, moved into third place with their wins. Doosan now trails both teams by one game with seven games remaining.