The hitters who see the most pitches and the pitchers who make the fastest decisions met for a 21-pitch battle in just two at-bats, with neither side willing to lose. The result was a one-run victory.
The KT Wiz came back from the brink to win 3-0 against the NC Dinos in the third game of the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO Postseason’ at NC Park in Changwon on April 2. Leading the Wizards to their first win after two losses was starting pitcher Ko Young-pyo. He threw 105 pitches over six innings, allowing three hits, two walks and five strikeouts to put the brakes on NC’s nine-game winning streak in fall baseball.
In 174⅔ innings pitched this year, Ko has walked just 19 batters. In 28 games, he has walked two or more batters just four times. He has 14 games with no walks. He had a streak of five consecutive games without a walk from July 2 against NC to August 1 against SSG.
His 3.48 pitches per plate appearance is at least first among pitchers with 100+ innings pitched. His walk rate is just under one per nine innings at 0.98. With such confidence in his pitches, Ko gave up walks to Kwon Hee-dong in the second inning and Park Min-woo in the sixth in Game 3 of the playoffs.
The battle with Kwon Hee-dong was particularly intense. In the second inning, Ko faced Kwon Hee-dong with the bases loaded and the count 3-1. But he wasn’t about to let the runners get away that easily. He fired five pitches into the strike zone for a full count.
But his opponent, Kwon Hee-dong, is no pushover. He has the exact opposite tendencies as Ko. This year, he’s topped the league in pitches per at-bat at 4.40, having thrown 1641 pitches in 373 at-bats (based on 350+ at-bats). This postseason, he drew 4.54 pitches per at-bat through Game 2 of the playoffs. If you include Game 3, that’s a whopping 4.90 pitches.
As one of the most prolific hitters in the game, he responded by fouling off four straight pitches. Ko eventually gave up his first hit of the game after 10 pitches.
The next at-bat was also a long one. However, the process was reversed from the second inning. This time, Ko put early pressure on Kwon Hee-dong. After an initial strike, three consecutive fouls led to an 0-2 count. The fifth pitch was a ball, and Kwon Hee-dong fouled off the sixth and seventh pitches. Ko’s 8th and 9th pitches were ruled balls. Full count again. 무지개토토 도메인
There were no runners on base, but the score was still 2-0. There was no telling how another walk would change the game, so Ko went toe-to-toe again. Kwon Hee-dong cut the 10th pitch. Ko ended the fourth inning with an 11-pitch fastball to center field.