The Kia Tigers are the new Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) champs, again. The Tigers won the best-of-7 KBO’s Korea Series in five games, defeating two-time defending champions Doosan Bears four games to one.
The Kia Tigers, the most successful franchise in KBO history, claimed their record 11th league title and first since 2009.
The Doosan Bears took off with a 5-3 win on Wednesday, 25 October, in the series opener, that Kia Tigers hosted in Gwangju. Kia Tigers came back with a 1-0 win the day after and then travelled to Seoul to sweep the defending champions on their home turf.
Kia Tigers won (6-3) game 3 on Saturday, 28 October and game 4 (5-1) the day after.
On Monday, 30 October Kia Tigers clinched the league title. They took an early lead against Bears ace (and former Big Leaguer in the USA) Dustin Nippert as third baseman Lee Bum Ho (who made the All Star Team of the World Baseball Classic 2009) hit a grand slam in the top of the third.
They extended the lead to 7-0 but Doosan Bears didn’t surrender before giving all they had. They cut the lead to 1 run and loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth. Left handed starter Yang Hyeon Jong (who had pitched a complete game shutout in game 2) took the mound in relief of starter Hector Noesi, a former Big Leaguer in the USA, and got out of trouble inducing a couple of pop outs. Yang Hyeon Jong (who had been the ace of Korea’s gold medal team at the U-18 Baseball World Cup 2006) was named the series MVP.
KBO, a member of WBSC, is the top professional sports league in Korea, with an annual attendance over 8 million. All of the 5 games of the Korean Series went sold out: 19,600 fans in both games played in Gwangju and 25,000 for the 3 games played in Seul. A total of 114,200 fans (an average of 22,840 per game) attended the final series.