By Yoo Jee-ho
SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- For the second time in three seasons, the Hanwha Eagles finished first in the preseason in the top South Korean baseball league.
Whether it will translate into regular season success for the perennial doormats is another matter.
The Eagles, who have finished dead last in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) in each of the past three years, routed the Samsung Lions 14-3 Tuesday to finish the preseason at 9-3-1 (wins-losses-ties). With a winning percentage of .750, the Eagles held off the Lions (10-4, .714 winning percentage).
Third baseman Roh Si-hwan belted a three-run home run to finish tied for the preseason lead with five dingers. He had two hits and scored three times to finish the exhibition campaign with a .471 average.
The Eagles have made the postseason just once since 2008.
This was the 40th preseason in KBO history. It started in 1983, the second year of the league, with the 2020 preseason canceled due to COVID-19.
Of the previous 39 preseasons, there have been five occasions where the top-ranked team from exhibition games finished dead last in the regular season -- most recently the 2021 Eagles.
In seven instances, the preseason champions also went on to win the Korean Series title, though it hasn't happened since 1992, when the Lotte Giants won them both.
Five times a team has finished last in the preseason but gone on to capture the Korean Series, with the 2013 Lions being the most recent case.
On six occasions, the worst team in the preseason also ended up being the worst team in the regular season.
Elsewhere on Tuesday, defending champions SSG Landers blanked the LG Twins 1-0. The NC Dinos got past the KT Wiz 3-2 and the Lotte Giants beat the Kia Tigers 7-6.
The Doosan Bears rallied past the Kiwoom Heroes 2-1, as the Heroes, runners-up in last year's Korea Series, finished with the worst preseason record at 4-9-1.
The regular season starts Saturday with all 10 teams in action.