Kang Baek-ho (24, KT Wiz) is one of the players receiving the most attention on the Korean national baseball team. Although his talent and skills were recognized to the extent that he wore the Taegeuk mark for the first time in his second year as a professional, he was often the center of criticism at international competitions.
A representative scene was the ‘ceremony death’ during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) match against Australia last March. He was good until he hit a double to left center with one out in the bottom of the 7th inning when Korea was down 4-5. However, as soon as he arrived at second base, he was excitedly celebrating, but his foot fell off the base and he was tagged out. Korea lost to Australia and was eliminated in the first round, and Kang Baek-ho was labeled a ‘traitor’.
The Hangzhou Asian Games are the first major international competition held since then. Kang Baek-ho was selected as a member of the national team, which was comprised mainly of players under the age of 24 or with less than four years of professional experience. Previously, he was at the youngest level, but now he is at the senior level. Although the mid-to-late season performance was not very good, the national team, which needed a mid- to long-distance hitter, selected Kang Baek-ho to represent the national team once again.
The start was bad. Manager Ryu Joong-il used Kang Baek-ho as the fourth hitter in the group stage match against Hong Kong and Taiwan, but he went only 0-hit in 8 at-bats and 4 strikeouts in total in the two games. In particular, in the most important game against Taiwan, they missed many opportunities to score, providing an excuse for a 0-4 defeat. In the game against Thailand, where he was moved to number 6 to ease the burden, he hit 2 RBIs and timely hits, but it was difficult to receive a big applause because the game ended in a cold game in the 5th inning after Korea scored 17 runs.
The first time that Kang Baek-ho ‘properly’ contributed to victory메이저사이트 was in the match against China on the 6th, which confirmed advancement to the finals. He hit a single as the leadoff hitter in the top of the second inning and hit home when Kim Joo-won hit the game-winning two-run home run. In the top of the third inning, he drew a solo arch large enough to intuit a home run the moment it was hit. It was Kang Baek-ho’s first home run in his fourth international tournament. 3 hits in 4 at-bats, 1 RBI, 2 runs scored. Kang Baek-ho also contributed to Korea’s 8-1 victory. Coach Ryu praised all of the players who performed well on this day and welcomed, “More than anything, it is encouraging that Kang Baek-ho’s hitting skills have come back to life.”
Kang Baek-ho is well aware of the negative attention that has been paid to him. As a result, he did not bother to hide his heavy heart. He paused for a moment and said, “I always felt pressured because of my poor performance in international competitions. For this competition, I am working harder to live up to the expectations of the fans and not disappoint them.”
He did not smile brightly even though he killed two birds with one stone: ‘Korea’s advancement to the finals’ and ‘game with 3 hits including a home run’. He said, “Rather than hitting a home run, I’m happy that I made an impact in helping Korea win an important game. And more than that, I’m satisfied that my batting condition has improved ahead of the important final.”
The Korean batting lineup had a hard time targeting Taiwanese pitchers, including 20-year-old left-handed pitcher Lin Yeo-min (Arizona Diamondbacks minor league), in the group stage match against Taiwan. However, during the Super Round match against Japan and China, his batting skills improved little by little. In the game against China, all of the starting batters finished the warm-up with hits. We are instilling confidence in each other that we can produce different results than 5 days ago.
Kang Baek-ho said, “Taiwan’s pitchers were better than expected, but our batters’ hitting skills have also improved a lot. We can attack well this time,” and added, “I think it will be important to score the first run as quickly as possible. We should focus from the 1st or 2nd inning to get the score.” “I believe that if I pick him and go ahead, the pitchers will do a good job blocking him,” he said.
He also said, “In international competitions, every game (no matter who the opponent) is difficult. I think I need to be more responsible and focus in the really important final against Taiwan.” He added, “I will do my best and play a game with no regrets.” I promised myself again and again.