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American pitcher finds renewed purpose in S. Korea

All Headlines 08:30 October 07, 2019

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 7 (Yonhap) -- When he left home in the United States to continue his baseball career in South Korea in 2019, Eric Jokisch wanted to find something to play for.

And with his Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, Kiwoom Heroes, in the postseason, Jokisch is indeed playing for something: the championship.

In this file photo from Aug. 29, 2019, Eric Jokisch of the Kiwoom Heroes delivers a pitch against the Lotte Giants in a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

"It was one of the goals coming into the year. I really wanted to play for something," Jokisch told Yonhap News Agency on Sunday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, hours before the Heroes beat the LG Twins 1-0 to open their best-of-five first round playoff series.

"We've been playing the whole year to have a chance in the postseason," the left-hander said. "I am excited about it. I came over here for it. It's all about the team trying to pull out every game we can and see what we can do."

Jokisch more than did his part to send the Heroes to the postseason as the No. 3 seed. He went 13-9 with a complete game shutout, while posting a 3.13 ERA in 30 starts.

And he will get the nod for Game 2 later Monday, back at Gocheok Sky Dome, hoping to give his team a commanding 2-0 series lead.

The Twins had mixed success against left-handers during the regular season. They led all teams with 205 runs scored against southpaws but ranked in the middle of the pack in the team batting average and on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS).

Jokisch went 1-1 in two regular starts versus the Twins with a 5.06 ERA.

"They're a solid lineup, and they hit lefties pretty well," he said. "What it really comes down to is just executing pitches."

In this file photo from July 3, 2019, Eric Jokisch of the Kiwoom Heroes points to his outfielder Lim Byeong-wuk after Lim's catch against the Doosan Bears in the top of the sixth inning of a Korea Baseball Organization regular season game at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. (Yonhap)

Jokisch said Jake Brigham, who started Game 1 on Sunday for his fifth career KBO postseason appearance, had told him about things to expect in playoff games, namely the importance of staying composed amid deafening crowd noise.

Jokisch added he'll try not to change his approach too much from the regular season to the postseason.

"I try to keep as much the same as I can," he said. "Right now, every inning, every out is really important. I am going to go out there and pitch like it's my own inning, and go from there."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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