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American manager makes S. Korean baseball history by reaching championship series

All Headlines 00:22 November 03, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho

INCHEON, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- SK Wyverns' American manager Trey Hillman made South Korean baseball history on Friday, as his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club reached the championship final with a dramatic victory.

Hillman became the first foreign skipper to take his club to the Korean Series. The Wyverns walked off on the Nexen Heroes 11-10 in 10 innings at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, just west of Seoul, to win the penultimate series in five games, and will go on to meet the regular season champions, Doosan Bears, in the best-of-seven Korean Series starting Sunday.

This is Hillman's second and final season at the helm. He has already announced that he won't be returning next year and he wants to spend more time with his family in the United States.

Hillman has repeatedly said during the series against the Heroes that he wasn't thinking about his status and was only trying to win games while he could.

Trey Hillman, manager of the SK Wyverns, speaks before Game 2 of the second round playoff series against the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization at SK Happy Dream Park in Incheon, 40 kilometers west of Seoul, on Oct 28, 2018. (Yonhap)

And the Wyverns almost blew it for their manager. They had a 9-4 lead going into the top of the ninth, and came within an out of closing out the Heroes. But the visiting Heroes battled back to tie the game at 9-9, and then scored a run in the top of the 10th for a 10-9 lead.

The Wyverns had just enough gas left in the tank, as Kim Kang-min and Han Dong-min went back-to-back with solo shots to finish off the wild, five-hour affair.

Hillman, who won the Japanese league title with Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters in 2006, now has a chance to add another ring in South Korea.

"I try to always think positive thoughts. I try to draw on experience from the past that helps you stay calmer and try to make better decisions, the best decisions that you can make and hope that works out," he said. "The players are the ones that go out there and perform. It's very cool to get to manage a group of guys like this. I don't take that lightly. I feel very blessed to be where I am."

The Wyverns have made the postseason in both of Hillman's seasons, and the manager said he believed the team was already in a good spot when he took the job two years ago.

"When I got this job, the thing that I was confident about was that we could put in a system that I thought would be productive," he said. "I get to work with a great owndership, a general manager who's always trying to get better and a very supportive CEO. Everyone wants to keep getting better. I just knew we could have a good system going with help from a lot of people."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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