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LG Twins capture 1st Korean Series title in 29 years

Nov. 13, 2023 - 21:43 By Yonhap
LG Twins players celebrate their victory over KT Wiz in the fifth game of the 2023 KBO Korean Series at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Monday, clinching the championship. (Yonhap)

The wait is over. The LG Twins are the champions of South Korean baseball for the first time in 29 years.

The Twins defeated the KT Wiz 6-2 in Game 5 of the Korean Series on Monday, winning their fourth straight game after dropping the opener of this best-of-seven competition.

This is the Twins' first title since 1994 and it ends one of the longest title droughts in the history of the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), dating to 1982.

The Seoul-based Twins got to celebrate their long-awaited title on home turf at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. All five games of the Korean Series were played before a sellout crowd, including 23,750 fans at Jamsil on this frigid Monday night.

Captain Oh Ji-hwan was voted the MVP of the Korean Series, after leading the Twins with three home runs and eight RBIs. Oh became the first player to homer in three straight games in the same Korean Series.

The Twins put up a three-spot in the bottom of the third inning to set the early tone.

Moon Sung-ju opened the proceedings with a single off starter Ko Young-pyo, and after a walk by Shin Min-jae, Hong Chang-ki moved both runners with a sacrifice bunt. No. 2 hitter Park Hae-min brought both home for a 2-0 lead by lining a double to right field corner.

Park promptly stole third base with Kim Hyun-soo at the plate. Kim then hit a chopper toward first baseman Park Byung-ho, who had the ball ricochet off his glove to allow Park Hae-min to score easily from third and make it a 3-0 Twins lead.

Park Hae-min made his presence felt with his glove, too. In the top of the fourth, the Wiz had runners at first and second with two outs for pinch hitter Kim Min-hyuck, who came in batting 3-for-4 off the bench in this series. Swinging on the first pitch, Kim sent a sinking liner to shallow left-center field. But Park, one of the KBO's top defensive center fielders, made a spectacular diving catch to rob the Wiz of at least one run.

Park got up on one knee, pumped his fist and raised both arms in celebration, sending Twins fans packing Jamsil into a frenzy.

The Wiz had at least a runner aboard against starter Casey Kelly in each of the first five innings, and finally broke through with a run in the top fifth.

With runners at the corners at one out, the Wiz got their first run across on Kelly's wild pitch, and the trailing runner, Hwang Jae-gyun, went from first to third when catcher Park Dong-won made an errant toss back to Kelly covering home.

But the Wiz couldn't capitalize further, as Jang Sung-woo lined out to center field.

And the Twins pulled away with two runs in the bottom fifth. After Hong Chang-ki's leadoff single, Park Hae-min hit another single to right field. When right fielder Cho Yong-ho bobbled the ball, Hong advanced to third.

That hit knocked Ko Young-pyo out of the game.

With Kim Hyun-soo at the plate, Park stole second to give the Twins two runners in scoring position. And Kim drove both runners home with a single to left field, putting the Twins up 5-1.

The Twins tacked on another run in the sixth, thanks to Moon Sung-ju's one-out single off reliever Lee Sang-dong.

The Wiz got a run back in the seventh on a wild pitch by reliever You Young-chan, but that was the extent of their offense.

Kelly held the Wiz to a run on five hits in five innings for his first Korean Series victory. Much-maligned closer Go Woo-suk got the final three outs in a non-save situation. (Yonhap)