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Battle of American right-handers to open baseball championship final

All Headlines 15:38 October 28, 2016

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- Two American right-handers will take the mound to start the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) championship series on Saturday.

The Doosan Bears will send Dustin Nippert for Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul. The first pitch is 2 p.m. Saturday.

The Bears are the defending champions. They won the pennant and earned the bye to the best-of-seven series.

The NC Dinos, which knocked off the LG Twins in the second round, will counter with Zach Stewart.

Dustin Nippert of the Doosan Bears (L) and Zach Stewart of the NC Dinos will start Game 1 of the Korean Series to be held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Oct. 29, 2016. (Yonhap)

Nippert led the regular season with 22 victories and a 2.95 ERA. He was also solid against the Dinos, going 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in three starts.

The 35-year-old was instrumental in the Bears' championship run last year. He strung together 26 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, with seven shutout innings in his Game 2 start and 2 1/3 more scoreless frames in relief in Game 5 in the Korean Series.

Against the Dinos in the second round last year, Nippert threw a complete game shutout in Game 1 and tossed seven more shutout innings in Game 4 victory.

Stewart was 12-8 with a 4.56 ERA in the regular season and had more trouble against the Bears than any other club. In three starts, Stewart was 1-2 and had an unseemly ERA of 10.43, with 17 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings.

In last year's second round, Stewart threw a complete game in Game 2, giving up one earned run on three hits. But pitching on short rest in Game 5, he was touched for six earned runs on eight hits in four innings.

Stewart, however, was nearly flawless in his lone postseason start this year. He held the Twins to two hits and struck out seven in 7 1/3 innings in Game 2, as the Dinos won 2-0 last Saturday.

There have been 33 Korean Series, and the Game 1 winner has gone on to capture the title in 24 of them. There was a tie in Game 1 of the inaugural Korean Series in 1982.

In each of the past three years, however, the eventual champions all lost the opening game before rallying to take the championship.

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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