KT WIZ starting pitcher Ko Young-pyo fulfilled his promise to be a “proud father” by pitching on his son’s first birthday.
Ko started the game against the visiting NC Dinos in Game 3 of the best-of-five (PO-3) 2023 Baseball Playoffs at Changwon NC Park on Feb. 2 and pitched six innings of one-hit ball with two walks and five strikeouts.
KT defeated NC 3-0 and earned their first win in the PO thanks to Ko’s strong performance.
On this day, Ko carried the fate of the team on his shoulders. After losing the first and second games of the PO, KT had to pack their bags if they lost this game.
The situation was not good. The team’s mood was heavy, and Ko’s health was a question mark.
Ko Young-pyo was hit in the right forearm by a pitch in a regular-season game against the KIA Tigers on March 3.
The injury was painfully bruised, and the bruising had spread to his shoulder.
He was unable to throw the ball anymore and spent about a month recovering after the regular season ended early.
He recently reassured those around him, saying, “I’m fine now,” but that didn’t erase the anxiety.
After much deliberation, KT manager Lee Kang-cheol decided to name Ko Young-pyo as the starting pitcher for Game 3 of the PO.
November 2, the day of the third game of the PO, was a special day for Ko Young-pyo. It was the first birthday of his son, Go Cha-min, who was born on November 2 last year.
He postponed his son’s birthday celebration to prepare for the game.
“I will definitely win and give my son a good gift,” he said.
He kept his promise to his family, teammates, and fans.
In his first appearance on the mound in about a month, Ko shut down the NC bats, who were on a scary streak.
He struck out leadoff hitter Son As-seob and No. 2 hitter Park Min-woo in the first inning to end their hot start, and then retired Oh Young-soo and Seo Ho-cheol with runners on first and second in the second.
In the fourth inning, with a 2-0 lead, he retired the top three hitters – Park Gun-woo, Jason Martin, and Kwon Hee-dong – in order.
His main weapon, a changeup, had them swinging at nothing.
In the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, he got Kim Hyung-joon to pop out to third, second and first to end the threat.
Kim also had a birthday that day, but he bowed his head in honor of his dad pitching on his son’s birthday.
Ko continued his scoreless streak on the mound in the sixth inning before handing the ball over to Son Dong-hyun in the bottom of the seventh with a 3-0 lead.
Ko, who had remained calm throughout the game, broke into a huge smile as his team secured the win.
“I think my son had a very positive influence on me,” he said, “I think I was blessed. It was a very lucky day,” he said.
As he prepared for his first appearance in a month, he said he tried to keep his greed in check.
“When you take a break, you think a lot, and when you try to do well, you act like a child, but I had to resist that,” he said. “I focused on recovering as much as possible, and (in the game) I tried to throw the same as usual and focus on what I’m good at.”
“The NC bats were hot, so I tried to exploit their weaknesses as much as possible,” he said of his two walks.
“It’s great to see that kind of concentration and performance at his age,” said Park, who made a diving catch of NC’s Jason Martin’s hit in the seventh inning, “and it has a big impact on the team. It was the kind of defense that will greatly increase our chances of winning tomorrow.” 토토사이트