The NC Dinos, the fourth-place team in the 2023 KBO League, defeated the fifth-place Doosan Bears 14-9 in the wild-card game on April 19 to advance to the semifinals. Once again this season, there was no upset by a fifth-place team, and the odds of a fourth-place team advancing to the semifinals remained at 100%.
While the final score of 14-9 may make it seem like NC won the game on the strength of their bats, Doosan took control of the game early on, scoring in every inning after taking the lead in the first.
Doosan’s starting pitcher Kwak Bin pitched more powerfully than NC’s Tanner, and when Doosan’s batters were hitting hard in the early innings, NC’s players seemed frozen and rigid. Perhaps the fact that Doosan had the advantage in the second game’s starting battle gave the Doosan players some breathing room and put pressure on the NC players.
It was NC’s Seo Ho-cheol who relieved the pressure in the NC dugout with a single. In the bottom of the fourth inning, with the bases loaded after a hit and two walks, he hit a grand slam home run to overturn a three-run deficit with one powerful swing. Park Gun-woo, who came home with Seo, and Park Min-woo, who was cheering the team on from the dugout, could be seen softening their expressions.
NC’s batting lineup, which turned the tide with Seo’s surprise grand slam, showed a smooth offensive flow like a tangled thread being untangled, and Doosan was unable to handle the NC batting lineup even though they used all of their available bullpen.
In fact, it was Seo’s single that woke up the NC batting lineup, which was frozen in the early innings. Seo followed that up with another hit with the bases loaded to complete his career-high six-hit game and was named the MVP of the Wild Card Game.메이저놀이터
Now, Seo and NC have their sights set on a semifinal upset. Having easily breezed through the Wild Card Decider against the odds, they are well positioned to take on SSG in the semi-finals.
NC is expected to be at a disadvantage when it comes to mound height. As exposed in the Wild Card Game, foreign pitcher Tanner has not been able to fulfill his role as a starter, the bullpen is tired after a heavy innings load during the regular season, and 20-win ace Eric Peddie is not fully fit.
In order for NC, which had a strong showing against SSG in the regular season with 8 wins and 8 losses, to go beyond the semifinals, the batting lineup will have to explode like it did in the wild card deciding game. The key to that will be the performance of Seo Ho-cheol, the brains of the bottom of the order.
NC boasts a stellar top-of-the-order lineup, led by the two-time batting champion Son Ah-seop, and including Park Min-woo, Park Geon-woo, and Martin. It will be interesting to see if Seo Ho-cheol, who earned a reputation as a “bear hunter” through his performance in the wild card decider, can swing the bat against SSG’s pitchers and lead NC into the playoffs.