Giant Ace’s ‘Forkball’…Na Kyun-ahn wins 5th win of the season in 26 days

(Busan=News1) By Sang-cheol Lee = ‘Giant Corps ace’ Na Gyun-ahn (25, Lotte Giants) pitched a no-hitter with excellent crisis management skills to win for the first time in 26 days.

Na pitched six innings of one-hit ball with one walk and five strikeouts against the NC Dinos in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Sajik Stadium in Busan on March 23.

In Lotte’s 2-0 victory, Na earned his fifth win of the season (1-1) in 26 days, his first since April 27 against the Sasik Hanwha Eagles. Na also lowered his season ERA from 2.76 to 2.45.

It was a significant win for the team and the individual.

Lotte, which slipped to third place after losing back-to-back games to SSG Landers on April 20-21, avoided a third straight loss thanks to Na Gyun-ahn’s strong pitching performance and paved the way to regain the lead. The team also dominated the season’s Nakdong River Derby against NC, winning four games (undefeated) 스포츠토토.

Na Gyun-an also broke out of his slump and picked up a win in his fourth game in May.

Na Gyun-ahn won the KBO League’s April Most Valuable Player (MVP) award after going 4-0 with 29 strikeouts and a 1.34 ERA in five games last month, but he faltered in May.

In his last three starts, he took one loss without a win. He pitched well against Hanwha in Daejeon on May 17, allowing one run on four hits in 6⅓ innings with one walk and eight strikeouts, but was removed with the score tied 1-1 and did not meet the win requirement.

Again, the Lotte bats struggled, scoring just two runs, but Na Gyun-an pitched even better than a week earlier to earn the win. He threw 39 forkballs, 30 fastballs, 12 curves, and 4 cutters to keep the NC batters in check.

The forkball, which he threw the most, was particularly powerful. In the top of the third and top of the fifth innings, Na faced two crucial situations, but he was able to extinguish the flames with his forkball.

In the third inning, with the score tied at 0-0, Na gave up a single to Kim Joo-won and a walk to Son Asub to put runners on first and second, but he threw a big forkball to Park Young-bin for a swinging strikeout. Five of his six pitches were forkballs.

Shortly after Lotte scored two runs in the bottom of the fourth, Na got into trouble again. Yoon Hyung-joon doubled, Seo Ho-chul singled, and Na Gyun-an was hit by a pitch to put runners on second and third. One hit would have tied the game.

This is where Na Gyun-an’s crisis management skills stood out. He threw a forkball to induce Kim Joo-won to ground out to third base to catch Yoon Hyung-joon at third, and then struck out Do Tae-hoon and Son As-seop in succession. The deciding pitches were all forkballs.

In the biggest game of the night, Na Kyun-ahn’s decisive defense gave Lotte the win. In the top of the sixth, Na gave up a leadoff single to Park Gun-woo, but immediately struck out Jason Martin to end NC’s hopes of a comeback.

The LOTTE bullpen was activated in the top of the seventh inning, with Kim Sang-soo, Koo Seung-min, and Kim Won-joong pitching one inning each to preserve the two-run victory.

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