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(LEAD) Doosan claims Korean Series thanks to superb pitching, relentless hitting

All Headlines 19:00 October 31, 2015

(ATTN: ADDS photo, details, comments)
By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 31 (Yonhap) -- Two years ago, the Doosan Bears blew a 3-1 Korean Series lead over the Samsung Lions and crashed out in seven games.

This year, they built a 3-1 series lead facing the same Lions, and were able to finish off their rivals in five games on Saturday, thanks to the winning combination of superb pitching and relentless hitting.

In the clinching game, the Bears pounded out 17 hits, with seven players picking up at least two hits. It captured in a nutshell just how well they hit the entire series.

The top of the order was especially deadly. Jung Soo-bin, usually the starting center fielder serving as designated hitter in the final three games with a finger injury, batted .571 (8-for-14) in the series. He received six stitches to his left index finger after getting hit by a pitch in Game 1. He sat out Game 2 and came back even stronger the rest of the series, batting 6-for-11 with four RBIs and four runs scored in three games as DH.

The strong finish earned him the Korean Series MVP honors, with 41 of 66 media votes.

Hur Kyoung-min, who split his time as leadoff and No. 2 hitter in the series, also enjoyed a strong series with a .474 average (9-for-19) with six RBIs. He set a Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) record for most hits in a single postseason with 23.

No. 3 hitter Min Byung-hun also batted 9-for-19 with five RBIs in the series, while cleanup Kim Hyun-soo, nearly lost in the shuffle finished with 8-for-19 with four runs knocked in.

Jung, after winning the championship in his second Korean Series appearance, said he wants to keep on going.

"I'd love to play postseason baseball every year," he said. "It'd be nice to win four straight championships like Samsung did."

With the offense firing on all cylinders, the pitchers took care of business on their own end.

The top two starters, Dustin Nippert and Jang Won-jun, were 2-0 with a sparkling 0.53 ERA in 17 innings, with 11 strikeouts.

Nippert threw seven shutout innings in a Game 2 start, and made a cameo relief appearance in Game 5, blanking the Lions for 2 1/3 more innings to extend his postseason record to 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings.

The two threw 59 innings together this postseason, the second-highest total by two teammates, behind only the 61 innings thrown by Park Dong-hee and Yeom Jong-seok of the Lotte Giants in 1992.

Out of the Bears' bullpen, Noh Kyung-eun pitched a game of his life in Game 4 on Friday, twirling 5 2/3 shutout innings in a 92-pitch relief appearance. He came on in the second with the Bears down 3-2, and his workman-like effort kept the Bears in the game and gave the offense to mount a comeback for a 4-3 victory.

Even Yoo Hee-kwan, who led the team with 18 wins in the regular season but slumped badly in the postseason, got in on the act in the clinching game Saturday.

After allowing five runs in six innings in Game 1, Yoo held the Lions to a pair of runs on five hits in six effective innings to earn the victory.

Prior to Saturday's start, Yoo had an 8.76 ERA in 12 1/3 innings this postseason.

Yoo said he was glad to find his groove just in time to clinch the championship for the Bears.

"I was so frustrated, and I am sure it was so for the fans watching me on the mound," he said. "It wouldn't have been as exciting to win the title if I hadn't pitched so well today. I've gone through a lot this year, and it's an honor to be the winning pitcher in the clinching game."

Manager Kim Tae-hyung also got into the record books, becoming the first to win a Korean Series as a player and a manager for the same franchise. He was part of the 1995 championship team as a catcher.

"I can't describe this feeling," he said. "It never entered my mind today that we would win the championship with a victory. It only started to dawn on me in the ninth inning."

The Bears squandered a 5-0 lead in Game 1 to lose 9-8, but Kim said he never panicked.

"Our hitters were swinging the bat well, and I figured we could still take control of the series," Kim said. "The guys really rose to the occasion. And we hope to play even more exciting baseball next season."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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