Own heroics aside, slugger rues missed opportunity in KBO postseason loss

SEOUL– Playing on a gimpy right ankle that is not yet fully healed from a September baserunning mishap, KT Wiz slugger Park Byung-ho is still making an impact with his bat.

Park was one of few bright spots for the Wiz in their 8-4 loss to the Kiwoom Heroes on Sunday in Game 1 of the best-of-five first round in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason. With the Wiz trailing 4-0, Park led off the top of the seventh inning with a home run over the center field wall at Gocheok Sky Dome.
The Wiz eventually knotted the score at 4-4 before losing 8-4, having frittered away chances to tack on more runs in the seventh and again in the eighth.

“In postseasons, you don’t get as many opportunities to score as in the regular season. And you have to take advantage of those,” Park said Monday, before the second game of the series. “Pitchers don’t make mistakes that often this time of year. We have to really bear down and capitalize on whatever chances we get.”

Park, a longtime Heroes star who signed with the Wiz as a free agent in the offseason, said Kiwoom starter An Woo-jin proved too difficult to handle. An struck out nine in six dominant innings, and Park was a victim of one strikeout himself.

“We were trailing in a game against the other team’s No. 1 starter, and we managed to tie the score later on. If we’d gone ahead, the momentum would be fully on our side now,” Park said. “The fact that we tied things up and still ended up losing makes this that much tougher to swallow.”

Park suffered torn ligaments in his right ankle after jamming his foot against the second base bag during a game in September. The Wiz feared Park would be out for season, but he made a comeback late in the regular season and even delivered back-to-back pinch-hit homers.

The first baseman is being limited to designated-hitting duties, because he is not yet able to play defense or even run at full speed. Hitting home runs takes care of the baserunning part.

“I’ve just been able to get good timing on some pitches,” Park said. “I don’t think these home runs mean all that much, though. I’ve been very lucky.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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