Bizarre three-game KBO series ends with error-filled game

SEOUL, May 2 (Yonhap) -- The Kia Tigers humiliated the SK Wyverns 20-2 on Thursday in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), providing a fitting, if ugly, ending to what had been a bizarre three-game series that featured disputed umpiring, subpar defense and shaky pitching on the field, and some unruly behavior in the stands.

It was a game so unsightly it got into the KBO record books for all the wrong reasons. The Wyverns, a team long known for fundamentals, committed eight errors on Thursday, setting a new league mark for most errors in a game.

In each of the three games at the Tigers' home, Gwangju-Kia Champions Field in Gwangju, about 330 kilometers south of Seoul, both teams recorded at least 10 hits. In the series opener on Tuesday, the Wyverns emerged an 18-5 winner, outhitting the opponents 15-10. The Tigers' staff handed out seven walks and two hit-by-pitches.

The following day, the Tigers won 6-3, and held the 12-10 edge in hits. They claimed the rubber match on Thursday and picked up 21 hits, over SK's 10 hits.

Yet these scores weren't the biggest headline grabbers in the series, during which fans witnessed a series of controversies that they might witness over the course of a season, let alone over a three-day span involving the two same teams at the same venue.

Umpires took turns in blowing calls in the opening contest. One of them, second base ump Na Gwang-nam, was replaced in midgame by an alternate, Park Keun-young, and Na later said he'd asked to leave the game because of an illness. Cynical fans who had grown disenchanted with the quality of officiating in the KBO believed Na was taken out of the game as a penalty.

In the second game, more missed calls followed. Park, who started the game as the first base ump, found himself in hot water after calling an SK runner safe at the bag on a bang-bang play, with replays showing the throw narrowly beating the runner. Then an angry, inebriated fan ran onto the field and jumped Park from behind, wrapping his arm around the hapless umpire before getting dragged out of the stadium.

The Tigers promptly banned the fan, a 30-year-old male, from their home games for life.

Adding to the bizarreness of the series, a fan started a fire in seats on the first base side after trying to grill dried squid on a portable stove.

No injuries were reported as the fire was put out within a couple of minutes after causing commotion and putting the game on hold. The incident, though, raised a more serious question on safety at ballparks.

An official with the Tigers was exasperated at the lack of options.

"We're trying to come up with measures to prevent recurrences of the similar cases," he said. "But it's not easy to check fans' bags and belongings because some of them would get upset."

<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>