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Veteran turns back clock with clutch homer in Korean Series

All Headlines 18:55 November 04, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Nov. 4 (Yonhap) -- SK Wyverns' veteran designated hitter, Park Jung-kwon, is swinging the bat like this is 2010 again.

Park's go-ahead two-run home run lifted the Wyverns over the Doosan Bears 7-3 in Game 1 of the Korean Series on Sunday.

After spending the bulk of the regular season in the minors, the 37-year-old is enjoying a memorable postseason. In the opening game of the previous series against the Nexen Heroes, Park delivered a walk-off, two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth inning.

And on Sunday, Park's blast came in the sixth inning, quickly erasing a 3-2 deficit. The Wyverns added an insurance run in the seventh, and Park delivered a sacrifice fly during the two-run ninth inning.

Park Jung-kwon of the SK Wyverns rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Doosan Bears in the top of the sixth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)

Park was the MVP of the 2010 Korean Series, the last time the Wyverns won the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) title. The Wyverns swept the Samsung Lions in four games then, and Park batted .357 with a home run and two doubles.

But Park was a shell of his former self in 2018, batting only .172 in just 14 games.

Still, manager Trey Hillman valued Park's postseason experience -- he has a career postseason batting average of .308, compared with .274 in the regular season -- and placed Park on the postseason roster.

And six games into the postseason, that decision has paid dividends.

For Sunday's game, slugging third baseman Choi Jeong was held out of the starting lineup with an elbow injury, and Park was bumped up from his usual No. 5 hole in the order to the cleanup spot. And from there, Park delivered three RBIs.

Park entered Sunday with 28 Korean Series games under his belt -- second most on either club -- and the veteran said he wanted to make sure his experience would mean something on the field.

"I am one of the most experienced guys on the team, but I didn't want to be a leader just based on seniority," Park said. "I wanted to do something productive on the field as well. But at the same time, I knew I couldn't afford to press too much or I wouldn't be able to help the team. So I've been having this inner battle for a few days. I am happy to have hit a home run in a key situation today."

Park Jung-kwon of the SK Wyverns hits a sacrifice fly against the Doosan Bears in the top of the ninth inning of Game 1 of the Korean Series at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Nov. 4, 2018. (Yonhap)


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