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After complete game victory, flowing locks here to stay for NC's Stewart

All Headlines 17:51 October 21, 2015

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- After tossing a gem for his first South Korean postseason victory, Zach Stewart, a 29-year-old American right-hander for the NC Dinos in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), said Wednesday his signature flowing locks are here to stay.

Wearing the curly long hair that has also come to define hot-shot big leaguer starters this fall, Stewart threw a complete game in the Dinos' 2-1 victory over the Doosan Bears in Game 2 of their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) playoff series Monday.

It was a key victory for the Dinos, who'd dropped the opener of the best-of-five series 7-0 a day earlier. Dustin Nippert threw a three-hit shutout for the Bears, and Stewart answered the bell by also going the distance, with a season-high 122 pitches.

Speaking with Yonhap News Agency before Game 3 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, Stewart said he isn't about to make any change to his hairdo.

"I had the long hair when I first got up to the big leagues back in 2011 (with the Toronto Blue Jays)," he said. "It's cool to watch big league playoff games and see all those guys with the long hair, too. Hopefully, I can get (NC teammates Eric) Hacker and (Eric) Thames to grow their hair long next year."

Long hair or not, Stewart in Game 2 channeled his inner Jacob deGrom -- a New York Mets starter with locks who has gone 3-0 with a 2.57 ERA this postseason -- as he struck out eight and held the Bears to just two singles through seven before Oh Jae-won's solo home run in the top of the eighth.

After Stewart kept the team in the game for seven innings, his teammates returned the favor after the pitcher gave up his first run, scoring twice in the bottom half of the eighth to secure the victory.

When told he'd put the Dinos on his back and carried them to the victory, Stewart insisted he couldn't have done it without his teammates.

"It was a team effort," he said. "Thames made some very good plays defensively (at first base). We got some double plays turned. There were good plays behind me, and we scored when we needed to."

The Dinos are playing in just their third KBO season but have made the postseason for the second straight year. They have yet to win a series -- they were eliminated by the LG Twins in the first round last season -- but Stewart said he and his teammates aren't burdened too much by the playoff pressure.

"It's very upbeat (in the clubhouse), and everyone is very positive," he said. "We know we're facing a good team but we know we've got a very good team as well. It's one of those things you got to go into with confidence."

When he's not getting ready to mow down the opposing lineups, Stewart has found time to follow the postseason in Major League Baseball. Since the big league games fall in the morning hours in South Korea, Stewart said he's been able to follow most of the action.

His first major league club, the Blue Jays, are trailing the Kansas City Royals 3-1 in the American League Championship Series, but Stewart said he is "not partial to anybody."

"I just like watching good baseball," he said. "It'd be cool to see all the series go to Game 7 and see what shakes and who gets into the World Series. There are a lot of good storylines."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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