“I really wanted to play a cold game. (The game against Chinese Taipei) is a game we have to win no matter what, even if it’s by one run.”
After leading the South Korean baseball team to a cold victory, Kim Hye-sung, the team’s captain, shared her thoughts on the game against Chinese Taipei.
Kim batted first and played second base against Hong Kong in the first game of their Baseball Group B matchup at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center on Monday near Hangzhou, China.
After a grounder to first base in the first inning and a grounder to second base in the second inning, Kim’s bat came alive in the top of the fourth inning with South Korea leading 1-0. With the bases loaded, she took a first pitch from reliever Rungkahosam and smashed a two-run double to right field. It was a valuable hit and RBI for the team, which had been left stranded after the first inning.
Kim Hye-sung, who retired the side in the bottom of the sixth with a fly to right field, made her presence felt in the top of the eighth, when Korea still held a 3-0 lead. With the bases loaded, she battled Hong Kong pitcher Chan Chuk-hei for eight pitches before hitting a double to left field. He moved to third on Choi Ji-hoon’s infield single and scored on Noh Si-hwan’s single to center field.
That set the stage for the big inning. South Korea then tacked on a Moon Bo-kyung RBI single, a Yoon Dong-hee RBI double to left field, a throwing error and a Park Sung-hwan sacrifice fly to right field to make it 9-0.
One out later, Kim Hye-sung came to the plate again. It was runners on first and second. He took three pitches from the opposing pitcher, Jang Kin-nam, and lined a single up the middle. This completed South Korea’s 10-0 cold victory in the eighth inning.
Kim finished the day 3-for-6 with a home run, three RBIs and one run scored. After the game, manager Ryu Jung-il gave a thumbs-up to Kim’s two-run double in the bottom of the fourth inning, saying, “She was blocked early on, but she broke through the blockage.”
After the game, Kim said, “After the second inning, I had to get a hit. I really wanted to play a cold game,” she said, “and I think that’s why it worked out so well. It was unfortunate that it came a little late,” she said, reflecting on the moment she hit her last hit in the eighth inning.
The result was a cold game, but the process was anything but smooth. After scoring a run in the first inning, South Korea was silent until Kim Hye-sung’s RBI single, and even then, they didn’t produce a run until the bottom of the eighth. It seemed that the batters, who are used to hard-hitting fastballs, had a hard time adjusting to the slower pitches of the Hong Kong pitchers.
However, Kim said, “It’s all excuses. It’s the same baseball player, it’s just that we didn’t get the timing right and it was difficult.” “Just because the ball is slow doesn’t mean you can’t handle it in unfavorable counts. I think we were all thinking about hitting it in a favorable count. Even if it was slow, I had to swing when it was in my zone, and I think it didn’t work out.”
“I think I was nervous in the beginning because it was an international tournament, but I relaxed once I got to the plate, and I think the timing of the pitchers paid off in the second half,” he added.
Even though it was a cold victory, such a result in a short game has a huge impact on the team’s mood. “It makes a difference. It’s a bit big in a game like this,” she said, adding, “I’m glad it ended in a cold game.”캡틴토토
Korea will now play the second game of the group stage today (Feb. 2) at the same venue against ‘nemesis’ Chinese Taipei. Taiwan is no pushover. They have players with experience in the minor leagues of Major League Baseball, and the level of their league is nothing to sneeze at. But it’s also a must-win for Korea, which is looking to win its fourth consecutive Asian Games title, following Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014, and Jakarta-Palembang 2018.
“We have to win unconditionally. It doesn’t matter if it’s a one-point game, we have to win. I can only think of doing my best,” she said, adding, “I think we need to do better again.”