Three-peat!

November 1, 2013

Lions complete epic Korean Series comeback, dismantle Bears 7-3

The Samsung Lions rush the field after pitcher Oh Seung-hwan recorded the final out against the Doosan Bears in Game Seven of the Korean Series at Daegu Stadium, Friday. The Lions won 7-3, capturing their third title in as many years. / Yonhap

The Samsung Lions rush the field after pitcher Oh Seung-hwan recorded the final out against the Doosan Bears in Game Seven of the Korean Series at Daegu Stadium, Friday. The Lions won 7-3, capturing their third title in as many years. (Yonhap)

By Kim Young-jin

The “D-word” is now in play ― Dynasty.

The Samsung Lions erupted for five runs off Doosan Bears reliever Derek Hankins in the sixth inning en route to a rollicking 7-3 victory, fighting back from the brink of defeat to win their third Korean Series in as many years in front of their home crowd at Daegu Stadium, Friday.

The Bears, seeking to become the first number four seed ever to hoist the trophy, instead became the first team in Korean Baseball Organization history to lose the Korean Series after building a 3-1 Series lead.

With the crowd on its feet in the top of the ninth, reliever Oh Seung-hwan ― who the Lions’ went to again and again in this postseason ― retired Son Si-hyun on a fly ball to center to clinch a 1-2-3 ninth inning.

Samsung Lions players celebrate holding the trophy after beating the Doosan Bears 7-3 to capture the Korean Series in seven games at Daegu Stadium, Friday. They became the first team to claim three consecutive Korean Baseball Organization championships. / Yonhap

Samsung Lions players celebrate holding the trophy after beating the Doosan Bears 7-3 to capture the Korean Series in seven games at Daegu Stadium, Friday. They became the first team to claim three consecutive Korean Baseball Organization championships. (Yonhap)

The team gathered calmly in the infield before pointing together to the sky in what appeared to be homage to Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s trademark celebration.
The game was decided long before that.

With the score tied 2-2 in the sixth and with the bases loaded, Choi Hyung-woo hit a bounding grounder to third baseman Lee Won-seok. Lee’s throw to home plate deflected off the hand of Jung Byoung-gon, who was sliding into the plate, and dribbled past catcher Yang Eui-ji. Jung and Park Han-yi ― the series Most Valuable Player ― scored on the play.

The Lions scored two more runs on a Park Seok-min single and another on a single by Kim Tae-wan.

Lions’ starter Jang Won-soon coughed up two early runs but shut down the Bears in the fourth through sixth innings. Ahn Ji-man, who relieved Jang after his pitch count ran high, got the win.

Doosan’s Son Si-hyun hit a solo homer in the seventh, but the Bear’s body language telegraphed what their fans feared most: their underdog team had finally run out of gas.

For five innings, the game was up for grabs.

Doosan struck in the first inning, when Lee Jong-wook ripped a double to right and advanced on a bunt by Son Si-hyun. He came home when Kim Hyun-soo singled.

The Lions got the run back in the bottom of the inning. Park Han-yi reached on a soft blooper to center and advanced to third on a Chae Tae-in double. Park Seok-min brought him home with a sacrifice fly.

In the third, the Bears loaded the bases when slugger Choi reached on an infield error. Yang Eui-ji brought Son Si-hyun home with a sacrifice fly.

Doosan starter Yoo Hui-kwan was not particularly sharp, needing nearly 70 pitches to get through three innings. But he hung tough, getting Bae Young-seob to bounce into an inning ending double play in the second, stranding two. The next inning, the Lions loaded the bases but Yoo got Kim Tae-wan to pop out to end the inning.
But the Lion’s Jang was tougher.

In the fifth, Yoo loaded up the bases before finally being pulled for Hankins, who had pitched well earlier in the series. But the American gave up an RBI single to 37-year-old legend Lee Seung-yeop before escaping the inning.

Then came the Bear’s collapse, during which Doosan manager Kim Jin-wook stuck with Hankins until it was too late.

Doosan looked to be cruising to the title after Game 4, when it looked as if the Lions couldn’t buy a run and manager Ryu Joong-il had worn out his bullpen with his quick replacements.

But the Bears bats suddenly went quiet, a fact punctuated by its inability to produce runs in a 6-2 Game Six loss, when the team stranded a whopping 14 runners in scoring positions.

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