The ‘youngest club’ kt wiz laughed at the first place match held for the first time in 35 years of Korean professional baseball (KBO) history and for the first time in single league history. In the first place match of the 2021 Shinhan Bank SOL professional baseball regular season held at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu on the 31st, kt defeated the Samsung Lions 1-0 to advance to the Korean Series. The youngest club, kt, which was founded in 2013 and participated in the first team since 2015, won the regular season for the first time in their 7th season.
The match was the second tiebreaker match in history since 1982, when professional baseball was launched in Korea. In 1986, OB and Haitai (now KIA) had one match for the first place, but this is the first time since a single league system was established. In 144 regular season matches, both teams were tied with 76 wins, 9 draws and 59 losses, making it a historic match. The 12,244 tickets for the game were all sold out in 9 minutes, setting the record for the highest number of spectators in professional baseball in 2020 and 2021.
The starting pitchers of both teams stood out in the careful game as the season took a toll. In particular, kt gambled with William Cuevas, a foreign pitcher who took only two days off after throwing 108 balls against the NC Dinos on the 28th. And Cuevas responded by throwing out a punch in 7 innings, 99 pitches, 1 hit and 8 strikeouts. Cuevas, who suffered the tragedy of losing his father to Corona 19 this season, made a comeback after returning as if to repay coach Lee Kang-cheol, who gave him enough vacation during the season for a funeral.
Against this, Samsung sent Won Tae-in, who started two times against kt this season and recorded two wins and an ERA of 1.26. Tae-in Won, who took a break for 8 days, did his part with 6 innings of 2 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts, but in the end, he got a final blow from Kang Baek-ho and bowed his head. Kang Baek-ho, who was criticized for being reckless at the last Tokyo Olympics, shed tears of joy. Manager Lee Kang-cheol, who had been in the top spot for nearly four months and was pushed to the brink due to sluggishness at the last minute, said, “I thought it would be unfair and embarrassing if I missed it at the end.”
Professional baseball, which has suffered from various adverse events this season, such as Corona 19, the Olympic slump, and the drinking party, will now start fall baseball on the 1st from the wild card game between the Doosan Bears (4th) and Kiwoom Heroes (5th). If Doosan, which is ranked high, has one win advantage and only wins one win, it becomes a wild card, and Kiwoom has to win two games. The team determined in this way will play a semi-play-off (best-of-three) with the third-placed LG Twins, and the winning team competes with Samsung, who advanced to the play-off (best-of-three), to get the last ticket for the Korean Series. The competition was fierce to the point where the rankings were not determined until the last day of the regular season, and from the 1st, the team is determined to keep their enthusiasm as it is possible to enter up to 100% of the seats due to the gradual recovery of daily life.
[ⓒ 매일경제 & mk.co.kr, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]