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NC started the second half on a high note with two-hit harmony. Park Kun-woo 박건우, who returned to the first team after controversy, made a perfect comeback with a home run and two doubles.

NC completed a three-game sweep of Hanwha in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League with a 9-3 victory at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on April 21.

Starting pitcher Eric Peddy pitched 6⅔ innings of four-hit ball with one walk and eight strikeouts to earn his 13th win of the season, while Park Kun-woo, who returned from a walk-off controversy, hit an atoning home run and a double to lead the team to victory.

Fourth-ranked NC, which has won three straight, improved to 40 wins (38 L, 1 T) on the season. Hanwha, whose two-game winning streak ended, is now 34-41-4.

Park Kun-woo returns after work ethic controversy, atonement home run + double ‘successful comeback’

Park Kun-woo, who returned to the team 18 days after being expunged from the first team roster on March 3 due to the so-called “work ethic” controversy, made a successful comeback, going 2-for-4 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored. Before the game, Park said, “I will play hard for the team in the remaining games. I have to keep playing, so I hope I can finish the season well with my teammates,” and he made his presence felt right from the start.

After hitting a double off Hanwha starter Ricardo Sanchez with one out in the first inning, Park flied out to left field on two pitches in the third. However, in the fifth inning, he took Sanchez’s four-pitch fastball low to the body and sent it over the left field fence. It traveled 125 meters and was his eighth home run of the season. It made it 5-0.

In the seventh inning, he led off with a double off the left-hander Jung Woo-ram, and after a seven-pitch battle, hit a big shot over the left-center field fence to put runners in scoring position. A walk to Kwon Hee-dong, a hit by pitch to Park Seok-min, and a wild pitch to Park Se-hyuk scored Park Kun-woo. Kim Joo-won’s wild pitch and Son Ah-seop’s infield single to shortstop added two more runs to make the score 8-0 in favor of NC.

Before Park Kun-woo, NC hit two home runs. In the first inning, Son pulled Sanchez’s second pitch, a low 137-kilometer slider, for a line drive over the right field fence. It traveled 105 meters and was his third home run of the season. The leadoff home run was Son’s third of the season and 292nd of his career. Son went 3-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a walk.

After scoring a run in the fourth inning on Park Seok-min’s RBI single up the middle, NC took the lead in the fifth on Yoon Hyung-jun’s two-run homer. After Park Min-woo was hit by his own foul ball in the first inning and left the game with a right thigh contusion, Yoon came in to pinch-hit in the fourth inning and homered in his first at-bat of the fifth. He took Sanchez’s three-pitch fastball up and over the wall in left field for a two-run shot. It traveled 110 meters and was his fourth home run of the season. Despite coming off the bench, Yoon went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBIs to help his team win the game.

Pedi, Hanwha wins all 3 games…13 wins already this season, how can it be so overwhelming?

Pedi, who has emerged as one of the best pitchers in the KBO this season, had his good start cut short in his first appearance of the second half. In front of his family, including his father, mother, and grandmother, he held the Hanwha bats to three runs on four hits in 6⅔ innings with one walk and eight strikeouts to improve to 3-0 in the series.

He started cleanly with back-to-back triple plays in the first and second innings. In the second inning, he got the final batter, Jae-hoon Choi, to ground out on a full count with a six-pitch sweeper that took an incredible turn toward the body. It looked like it was going to hit him, and he flinched, but it curved sharply and landed tight in the zone.

In the third inning, after a long 10-pitch battle with Nick Williams that ended with another sweeper, Pedi gave up a leadoff single to Jung Eun-won, but struck out Lee Do-yoon on a fly ball to center field and Lee Jin-young on a wild pitch. Lee followed with a sweeper that curved low and hard outside.

In the fourth inning, a two-seam fastball that dug into the right-handed batter’s body proved to be effective. He struck out Noh Si-hwan and induced Chae Eun-sung to ground out to shortstop. In the fifth, he gave up a leadoff single to Moon Hyun-bin, but induced Choi Jae-hoon to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. In the sixth, after a throwing error by second baseman Seo Ho-cheol loaded the bases, he gave up a stolen base to Lee Do-yoon, but struck out Kim In-hwan on a sweeper and pumped his fist in the air.

His only regret was not being able to close out the seventh inning, which would be the final inning. After giving up a single to Moon Hyun-bin and a walk to pinch-hitter Kwon Kwang-min, the first run of the inning was scored when Williams’ mis-hit ball landed in left-center field. It was his first run in 19⅔ innings in three games against Hanwha. Down from 105 pitches, Pedi topped out at 154 mph and averaged 151 mph, sprinkling in curves (30), cutters (26) and changeups (18). Almost all of the curveballs were sweepers.

Reliever Kim Young-gyu gave up a two-run double to Jeong Eun-won to extend Pedi’s lead to three runs. Although his ERA rose from 1.71 to 1.87, Pedi, who already won 13 games (2 losses) in his 16th start of the season, consolidated his lead in wins and ERA. He also won all three games against Hanwha until today, including a no-hitter in Daejeon on April 30 (7 innings, 11 strikeouts) and Changwon on May 26 (6 innings, 9 strikeouts), and continued his dominance with a 1.37 ERA in 19⅔ innings with 28 strikeouts and three runs allowed.

Hanwha starter Sanchez, on the other hand, suffered his second loss of the season (5-2) after giving up five runs on 10 hits (three home runs) in five innings with no walks and three strikeouts. It was his second straight loss after allowing eight runs (seven earned) in three innings against SSG in Daejeon on Aug. 8, raising his ERA from 2.61 to 3.18.

Meanwhile, Ha Ju-seok, who was suspended for 70 games for a drunk driving offense in November last year, made his comeback as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning. It was his first first-team game in 286 days since October 8 against the Changwon NC. Ha, who bowed three times to apologize to the crowd in front of first, center and third base before stepping up to bat in the seventh inning, struck out swinging. 안전놀이터

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