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(LEAD) Doosan Bears power into 3rd straight baseball championship final

All Headlines 18:48 October 21, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS photo, comments, details.)

CHANGWON, South Korea, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) -- The Doosan Bears are headed to their third straight championship final in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO).

The Bears powered their way past the NC Dinos 14-5 on Saturday to clinch their best-of-five second round postseason series in four games at Masan Stadium in Changwon, 400 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

First baseman Oh Jae-il put on a historic power display, setting postseason records with four home runs and nine RBIs, and the Bears reeled off three straight wins after losing the series opener on Tuesday.

Oh Jae-il of the Doosan Bears (L) celebrates his two-run home run in the top of the eighth inning against the NC Dinos in Game 4 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21, 2017. This was Oh's third homer of the game. (Yonhap)

The Bears, two-time defending champions, will play in their third straight Korean Series. They'll take on the Kia Tigers, the regular season champs who earned the bye to the best-of-seven series, which starts next Wednesday. The Tigers haven't played since the end of the regular season on Oct. 3.

Doosan manager Kim Tae-hyung will be in his third Korean Series in his third season at the helm. He thanked his players and coaches for the job well done, and predicted a difficult series against the Tigers.

"They're a powerful team, and they have very good starting pitching and offense," Kim said. "We have our own brand of baseball, and we'll stick to it without worrying about our opponents."

Kim Jae-hwan of the Doosan Bears connects for a hit in the top of the first inning against the NC Dinos in Game 4 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)

As has been the running theme of this series, home runs played a major part in the outcome of the game.

For the first time this series, the Dinos scored first. In the bottom first, they had men at second and third with one out and two singles followed by a groundout. Then cleanup Xavier Scruggs brought in a run after bouncing out to shortstop.

The Bears, who'd scored 17 runs in Game 2 and 14 more in Game 3, erased that deficit with one swing of the bat in the third.

A pair of two-out singles put men at the corners for Oh Jae-il, who turned on a first-pitch forkball from NC starter Jung Su-min and drove it well over the right field wall.

The only question was whether it stayed fair, and it was close enough that Oh didn't get out of the box to begin his home run trot until the umpires signaled the home run.

The Dinos challenged the original call, which stood after a lengthy review.

And this was merely a prelude to Oh's power show.

The Bears added a run in the top fourth, when Park Kun-woo drew a bases-loaded walk against second NC pitcher, Jang Hyun-sik, who relieved Jung to begin that inning.

Just when the Bears seemed to have taken the wind out of the Dinos' sails, the home team rebounded to tie the score at 4-4 in the bottom fifth, thanks to Scruggs' sacrifice fly and back-to-back RBI hits by Mo Chang-min and Ji Seok-hun.

Fans of the Doosan Bears cheer on their club against the NC Dinos in Game 4 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)

But Oh Jae-il delivered the knockout punch in the top sixth, with his second three-run bomb of the day that made it 7-4 Bears.

They gave themselves more breathing room in the seventh on Min Byung-hun's RBI single.

The Dinos refused to go down without fighting, as Na Sung-bum smacked a solo home run in the bottom seventh to cut it to 8-5.

It only set the stage for more heroics by Oh Jae-il, who answered with a two-run home run in the top eighth to put his club up 10-5.

And the Bears kept piling on, as Oh Jae-won's RBI double and Hur Kyoung-min groundout tagged two more runs on the board.

Doosan cleanup Kim Jae-hwan added a solo shot in the top ninth, and Oh Jae-il followed up with a solo shot of his own, his fourth of the game.

Oh is the first player to hit four home runs in a KBO postseason game. No one else had even hit three in a game, and 30 players before him had hit two in a game. Oh's nine RBIs are a record by two.

Members of the Doosan Bears celebrate their 14-5 victory over the NC Dinos in Game 4 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21, 2017. The Bears won the series 3-1 to advance to the Korean Series, the KBO's championship final. (Yonhap)

He was 4-for-4 for the day and scored four runs as well. He also set a postseason record with 16 total bases in this game.

He had five home runs in this series. Before this year, Oh had just one homer in his previous 65 postseason at-bats across 34 games.

Oh was voted the MVP of this series, thanks to a .600 batting average (9-for-15) with five homers, 12 RBIs, eight runs scored and five walks. He earned 28 of 33 votes cast by the media.

No starting pitcher earned a win in this series. Doosan starter Yoo Hee-kwan came close in this one but he left after 4 2/3 innings with the score tied at 4-4. He entered the fifth inning with a three-run lead before the Dinos foiled Yoo's bid for his fourth career postseason victory.

Jung Su-min, former Chicago Cubs prospect who started for the Dinos Saturday, was hurt by the first of Oh Jae-il's three home runs. Those were the only three runs he allowed in three innings of work.

Hur Kyoung-min of the Doosan Bears (L) scores past NC Dinos catcher Shin Jin-ho in the top of the seventh inning in Game 4 of their Korea Baseball Organization postseason series at Masan Stadium in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province, on Oct. 21, 2017. (Yonhap)

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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