Nine scoreless innings. Zero earned run average.

This is the result of coming in late in games, whether his team was winning or losing, and aggressively attacking the strike zone. What’s even more amazing is that the pitchers who did this were born in 2003 and 2001. The two pitchers, both in their early 20s, have proven themselves to be the next generation of pitchers to lead the Korean baseball team through this postseason.

The KT Wiz came back from a two-game deficit to win games three and four to force a best-of-five series. Behind the dramatic 2-2 tie were Park Young-hyun (20) and Son Dong-hyun (22), who battled out of the bullpen for four consecutive games from Game 1 to Game 4. Regardless of the score, win or loss, they were used in the late innings and proved to be strong in big games.

Young-hyun Park has been a key contributor to KT’s playoff run. Last year’s first-round pick, who started 52 regular-season games and the postseason’s youngest save, went 3-3 with four saves and a 2.75 ERA in 68 games (75⅓ innings) with an upgraded delivery. He beat veteran Noh Kyung-eun (SSG) by two runs to become the KBO’s youngest holder of the title, and ranked fourth in bullpen innings pitched behind Noh, Lim Ki-young (KIA), and Kim Myung-shin (Doosan).

It didn’t stop there. Park Young-hyun was named to the Korean team for the Hangzhou 2023 Asian Games, where he anchored the back end of the bullpen, marking the birth of the post-Oh Seung-hwan era. The gold medal-winning pitcher took advantage of a special exemption from military service at the tender age of 20 to launch his own career.

Playing in the Asian Games could have been poison. During the three weeks of preparation for the playoffs, Park was troubled by a drop in his binding. “I don’t know why my binding suddenly stopped going up. I didn’t know why my velocity suddenly didn’t go up.” He even criticized himself for not being able to relax after the Asian Games, but that didn’t mean his velocity recovered quickly.

Park Young-hyun, however, was a ‘practice-type pitcher’. He got a taste of autumn with one inning of one-hit, one-strikeout ball in Game 1 on October 30, followed by a perfect multi-inning performance in Game 2 on October 31 with two innings of one-hit, one-strikeout ball, and a hold in Game 3 on November 2 with one inning of one-hit, one-strikeout ball. With his velocity back on track, Park shut down the NC bats with his heart, just as he did in the regular season and the Asian Games. 보스토토

KT manager Lee Kang-cheol said, “Park seems to have more adrenaline when he’s under pressure. When I was on the active roster, I was not pitching well in the bullpen, but when I entered the game, I pitched well. There are players who throw well in the bullpen but become mentally shaky when there are spectators, but Park enjoys big games,” he said, analyzing the factors behind his performance.

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