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Baseball's regular season champs not ready to celebrate yet

All Headlines 19:38 October 03, 2017

SUWON, South Korea, Oct. 3 (Yonhap) -- The Kia Tigers clinched their first South Korean baseball pennant on Tuesday, but the key members of the regular season champions weren't ready to celebrate much yet.

The Tigers defeated the KT Wiz 10-2 at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, 45 kilometers south of Seoul, to clinch first place in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) at 87-56-1 (wins-losses-ties). They edged out the Doosan Bears by two games to win their first pennant since 2009.

With the first seed in the bag, the Tigers advanced straight to the Korean Series, a best-of-seven championship final starting on Oct. 24. The Tigers' last Korean Series title also came in 2009.

Kim Ki-tai, manager of the Kia Tigers in the Korea Baseball Organization, salutes the crowd after clinching the pennant with a 10-2 win over the KT Wiz at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

Knowing that there's still more work left in the postseason, the core members of the Tigers said they haven't achieved anything yet.

"This season isn't over yet," said team captain Kim Joo-chan, who batted .300 for the fifth consecutive season. "We'll try to stay focused and try to win the championship."

Left-hander Yang Hyeon-jong, who became the first South Korean-born pitcher to win 20 games this year, said the celebration of the pennant will end Tuesday.

"We'll just enjoy this tonight, and we'll start preparing for the Korean Series tomorrow," he said.

Choi Hyoung-woo, who arrived from the Samsung Lions as a free agent last offseason, said the regular season crown was all team effort.

"Before the season, a lot of people didn't see us as a contender," said Choi, who led the Tigers with 120 RBIs. "But everyone came together as one, and it makes this victory extra sweeter."

The Tigers' manager, Kim Ki-tai, was decidedly more emotional after Tuesday's win. Fighting back tears, Kim thanked his players and front office for their hard work.

"It's an honor to take the regular season title," Kim said, his eyes reddened. "Before the season, I also had my doubts whether we'd be able to finish first. There were some tough moments, and we were almost caught at the top. But I'll just keep positive memories from this season."

Members of the Kia Tigers celebrate clinching their Korea Baseball Organization regular season title after a 10-2 victory over the KT Wiz at KT Wiz Park in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, on Oct. 3, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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