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Wiz face steep odds in bid to keep KBO title hopes alive

Nov. 2, 2023 - 09:50 By Yonhap
Bae Jung-dae of the KT Wiz (center) is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after scoring a run against the NC Dinos during Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization postseason at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

Having been pushed to the brink of elimination in the Korea Baseball Organization postseason, the KT Wiz must pull off a rare feat to stay alive against the NC Dinos.

The Wiz dropped the first two games of the best-of-five second round in the postseason at home in Suwon, just south of Seoul. The series now moves to the Dinos' home in the southeastern city of Changwon, for Game 3 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday and, if necessary, Game 4 at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

If the Wiz bounce back to steal the next two games on the road, they will be back home for Game 5 at 2 p.m. Sunday.

The winner of this round will advance to the Korean Series. For the Wiz to do so, they have to do something that only two other teams have done in KBO postseason history -- a reverse sweep.

The second round has been played in best-of-five 32 times, and a team jumped out to a 2-0 series lead on 17 of those occasions.

Only the 1996 Hyundai Unicorns and the 2009 SK Wyverns were able to climb out of that hole to reach the Korean Series.

The Unicorns no longer exist, having folded under financial trouble before the 2008 season. The Wyverns are now the SSG Landers under different corporate ownership.

In 1996, the Unicorns went up against the Ssangbangwool Raiders, another defunct club. The Unicorns lost the first game 1-0 and dropped the next one 2-1.

They took Game 3 by 3-0, scoring all three runs in the third inning. They had three hits in the entire game, and two of them came in that decisive inning.

The Unicorns then won the fourth game 4-2 to even the series, and completed the reverse sweep with a 3-1 win in Game 5. They lost in the Korean Series to the Haitai Tigers, though.

The Raiders were managed by Kim Sung-keun at the time. And 13 years later, Kim found himself on the right side of the equation, leading the Wyverns to a reverse sweep over the Doosan Bears.

The Wyverns lost the first two games of that series at home, by 3-2 and then by 4-1. They then won Game 3 by 3-1 in 10 innings.

They caught a lucky break in the top of the 10th. With the score knotted at 1-1, Park Jae-sang hit a routine fly to right fielder Jung Soo-bin, one of the KBO's top defensive outfielders. But Jung lost the ball in the lights and let it drop for what was scored as a triple, which cashed in the go-ahead run. The Wyverns added another run later in the inning to win by two.

The Wyverns took Game 4 by 8-3 and forced the deciding Game 5, where they were helped by Mother Nature.

They trailed 1-0 through two innings but the game was called off due to heavy downpours. The teams returned to start from scratch the next day.

The Wyverns scored three runs in the bottom of the first en route to a 14-3 win.

But just like the Unicorns, the Wyverns lost to the Tigers in the Korean Series that year. (Yonhap)