“Meet Kang Baek-ho hyung…” How was the 148km ace’s 113 fighting spirit completed?
“You finish the inning”
It was a moment of desperation. On the 28th, Samsung beat Suwon KT 10-9 after an extended match, but the wounds were great. The scene leading 8-0 and allowing 8 runs at the end of the 8th inning to tie the score at 8-8 made the coaching staff ‘back neck’.
So, on the 29th, the shoulders of Won Tae-in, a ‘local ace’ who pitched as a starting pitcher against Suwon KT, had no choice but to be heavier. Won Tae-in, who blocked the game with 2 runs until the 6th inning, went to the mound at the end of the 7th inning. After one out, Jo Yong-ho allowed a walk, but Won Tae-in made two outs by catching Hong Hyun-bin with a grounder out from second baseman. At this time, pitching coach Jung Hyun-wook visited the mound. Was it to replace Won Tae-in? It wasn’t. Coach Jung Hyeon-wook entrusted ‘destiny’ to Won Tae-in, saying, “I have no intention of changing. It doesn’t matter whether I give points or not. You finish the inning.”
Won Tae-in was on the verge of being loaded with two bases as both Anthony Alford and Park Byeong-ho’s ambiguous batted balls led to infield hits.
Won Tae-in’s choice was direct purchase. The fastball, which reached the maximum speed of 148 km that day, was the driving force of the good fight. As the first and second balls thrown to Kang Baek-ho became balls, the ball count increased, but Won Tae-in did not hesitate and threw another fastball. With a ball count of 2B and 2S, Won Tae-in threw a 143km outward fastball, and Kang Baek-ho’s batted ball led to a ground ball to the first baseman, escaping the bases loaded crisis.
After the game, Won Tae-in said, “I wanted to finish it cleanly, but there was an unfortunate walk and two vague infield hits, so I thought it would be a difficult inning. I had a lot of pitches, but I wanted to give more trust to the manager and coaches who believed in me, so I focused more, which led to good results.”
A word from coach Jung Hyeon-wook, who visited the mound, also gave Won Tae-in confidence. “The coach instilled confidence in me, so I gained more confidence and was able to finish the inning,” said Won Tae-in.
Samsung maintained a 2-2 tie with Won Tae-in’s 113 reverse pitches and won 3-2 thanks to Lee Seong-gyu’s final hit in the top of the 8th inning, sprinting for a stormy four-game winning streak. The season record also came close to a 50% win rate with 11 wins and 12 losses. 안전놀이터
On the other hand, Won Tae-in said of Lee Won-seok, who recently left Samsung due to a trade, “From the time I joined, (Lee) Won-seok hyung took care of a lot of things and said a lot of good things, so he was a senior I could always rely on, but I feel regretful that he left because of a trade. It seems to be big,” he said, revealing his regretful heart.
Samsung used Lee Won-seok as a trade card to reinforce the bullpen, and Kim Tae-hun, a right-handed pitcher who can handle both finishers and pilseungjos, joined the team, laying the groundwork for a jump in the rankings. As soon as he came to Samsung, Kim Tae-hun started fighting and got 1 win and 1 save, and Won Tae-in threw 113 pitches during Kim Tae-hoon’s rest day and blocked 7 innings, showing the true nature of an ace. As such, Samsung’s 4-game winning streak was not just made.