The Hanwha Eagles have ridden a six-game winning streak into the mid-table. While a top-five finish remains out of reach, the Eagles have shown that they have the strength to fight equally well against any team after spending the last three years at the bottom of the standings.
Hanwha won the 15th game of the season against the Kiwoom Heroes of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League 9-8 on Tuesday at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. The team swept all four games of the weekend series, including a doubleheader, to extend its winning streak to six games.
Hanwha’s starting lineup was Moon Hyun-bin (2B), Oh Sun-jin (shortstop), Noh Si-hwan (3B), Chae Eun-sung (1B), Choi In-ho (left field), Williams (right field), Jeong Won (designated hitter), Choi Jae-hoon (catcher), and Jang Jin-hyuk (center field). Fourth-year right-hander Han Seung-ju got the start.
Kiwoom came out with the following batting order: Kim Hye-sung (second base), Dawson (center field), Lee Joo-hyung (designated hitter), Lim Ji-yeol (first base), Song Sung-moon (third base), Lee Hyung-jong (right field), Park Chan-hyuk (left field), Kim Hwi-jip (shortstop), and Kim Xiang (catcher). Second-year Young-gun Joo Seung-woo was matched up against Han Seung-ju.
It was Kiwoom who struck first. In the top of the first inning, Kim Hye-sung led off with a single, stole second, and scored on an infield single by Lee Ju-hyung, taking advantage of an error by Han to cross home plate for a 1-0 lead.
Down 1-0, Hanwha fought back in the top of the third. Leadoff hitter Choi Jae-hoon and Jang Jin-hyuk hit back-to-back doubles to put runners on second and third with no outs, and Moon Hyun-bin blasted a three-run home run to make it a 3-1 game.
Energized, Hanwha loaded the bases in the top of the third inning with a walk to Noh Si-hwan and a single by Chae Eun-sung, then added another run on Williams’ RBI single to center field and Choi Jae-hoon’s push single to left field to make it 5-1.
Kiwoom fought back quickly. In the bottom of the third inning, Kim Xiang, the leadoff hitter, was hit by a pitch, and after Kim Hye-sung singled, Lim Ji-yeol singled up the middle to bring home Kim Xiang from second base to make it 5-2.
Hanwha responded with a strong offense. In the top of the fourth inning, Moon Hyun-bin and Oh Sun-jin walked, and Noh Si-hwan, the league’s home run leader, hit a two-run triple to make it 7-2. The fourth batter, Chae Eun-sung, followed with a two-run homer to make the score 9-2.
Kiwoom would not go down easily. In the bottom of the fourth, Kim Hye-sung’s RBI single and Dawson’s RBI triple cut the deficit to 9-4. In the bottom of the sixth, Kiwoom capitalized on a wild pitch by Hanwha pitcher Jung Woo-ram to score a run with the bases loaded, followed by an RBI single by Dawson and an RBI double by Song Sung-moon to cut the deficit to 9-7.
Kiwoom continued its offense in the bottom of the eighth. After a leadoff single by Kim Hye-sung, Dawson immediately followed with an RBI double to make the score 9-8. Given the flow of the game, a tie was certainly possible.
But Hanwha didn’t go down without a fight. Setup man Kim Bum-soo got Lee Joo-hyung to fly out to right field with the bases loaded and struck out Lim Ji-yeol and Song Sung-moon to end the inning. In the bottom of the ninth, closer Park Sang-won faced a bases-loaded jam but got Dawson to ground out to shortstop to end the game.
With the win, Hanwha improved to 50 wins, 62 losses, and six ties on the season and extended its lead over the ninth-place Samsung Lions to three games. They now trail the seventh-place Lotte Giants by two games and can look to move up in the standings next week.
After finishing last for three consecutive years from the 2020 season to last year, Hanwha’s final ranking this year is likely to be something other than 10th. Even if current last-place Kiwoom wins all 13 of its remaining games, Hanwha would only need 13 wins in its remaining 26 games to finish ahead of Kiwoom in the final win percentage.
There is plenty of motivation for Hanwha, as they have the potential to leapfrog Lotte, who have struggled in the second half of the season, into seventh place.
Hanwha is 8-2 in 10 games in September, tied with the NC Dinos for the best monthly winning percentage so far. Led by Noh Si-hwan, who has developed into one of the best hitters in the league, the batting lineup has the firepower to match up with any team.
The team hasn’t fallen prey to the top teams this season either. They went 6 wins, 6 losses, and 1 draw against LG, and 5 wins, 5 losses, and 1 draw against KT. They’re 4-7-1 against NC, 6-8-1 against KIA, and 5-8-1 against SSG, but there aren’t many one-sided games.
Hanwha has three games left against LG, five against KT, four against NC and two against SSG. In the midst of one of the most intense standings battles since the 10-team format began in 2015, it’s no exaggeration to say that Hanwha holds the “casting boat” for the postseason bracket.토토사이트
After a day off on April 11, Hanwha will face the sixth-place Doosan Bears in their final game of the season on April 12 at home. Doosan has a long way to go to reclaim fifth place, but given Hanwha’s recent surge, it’s unlikely they’ll be able to pull off an easy win.
Hanwha’s weekend schedule is more interesting. On the 15th, they’ll face first-place LG in Anbang, and on the 16th and 17th, they’ll face second-place KT. A doubleheader is scheduled for the 17th, which will be interesting for baseball fans.