“We are all doing our best for one match tomorrow (July 7). We want to play without regrets.”
The Korean baseball team is headed to the final. They’ve only lost once, but their confidence is growing. Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz)’s bat has finally broken through.
South Korea qualified for the final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games with an 8-1 victory over China in the second game of the Super Round on Saturday at Xiaoxing Baseball Stadium in Zhejiang, China.
While the bats were firing on all cylinders, it was Kang Baek-ho who had the most impressive performance. Prior to this game, he was batting just .143 (2-for-14) in the tournament. Cool hits were hard to come by. Even his best pitches were unlucky to be caught.
With Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom Heroes) out of the squad due to injury, Kang Baek-ho was the most experienced player in the batting order. The presence of Kang, who competed in both the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), was essential in a batting lineup centered around younger players. While struggles and injuries have plagued him in the last two seasons, his professional career has been better than any other player on the team. There aren’t many hitters with the “class” of the 2018 Rookie of the Year and 2020 and 2021 Golden Glove winners at first base.
The long-awaited shot finally came. Kang Baek-ho led off the bottom of the second inning with a cool pitch. It was a light pull, but the ball had a lot of power and quickly passed between the second baseman and first baseman for a hit. He capitalized on the opportunity with a two-run home run by the next batter, Kim Joo-won (NC Dinos).
He answered in the third inning himself. Stepping to the plate with two outs in the inning, he battled a full count against Chinese pitcher Wang Xiang. Wang Xiang threw a changeup to try and get a hit, but Baek-ho Kang was able to catch it and send it over the fence. It was his first home run of the tournament. Kang continued his best form in his next two at-bats, adding a single and a walk. It was a resurgence of the “perfect hitter” Kang Baek-ho.
Speaking to the media in the mixed zone after the game, Kang said, “I’m really happy to be in the final. I think it was a better result than I expected with such an important game coming up. I think I’ll be able to play in a better mood tomorrow.”
On a day when he was not getting results at the plate, Kang Baek-ho said, “My Korean teammates played really well while I was out of form. I’m really grateful that they took some of the pressure off of me,” he said, adding, “I’ll do my best to show my national teammates a good performance in the remaining games.”
“I’ve had a lot of bad performances in international tournaments, so I’m always under pressure,” said Kang Baek-ho. “This time, I tried to work harder because the people are really expecting it. I’m also concentrating a lot. Each game has been really difficult,” he said, adding, “We have one really important game tomorrow. We have one really important game tomorrow, and I’ll do my best to fulfill my responsibilities.”
When asked about his batting, he said, “I had some good shots in the previous match, but I was very disappointed that they didn’t translate into results,” adding, “I think I’m feeling better today. I’m looking forward to the final tomorrow.” Regarding his home run, he said, “I had a good pitch in the first at-bat, and I think I had a good feel for the second at-bat (home run).”
Although it was his first home run of the tournament, he said he was happier with the team victory than the home run. “Today’s game was a really important game, and tomorrow we have an even more important game,” he said. “It’s good to hit a home run, but it was a satisfying home run because I felt like I was in good shape before the big game.” “I was really happy that I helped my country win, not that it was my first home run,” he added.
“In an international tournament like this, I think the atmosphere and the responsibility of each player is more important than their physical condition. I think the good things that went well in my first at-bat today led to good results in the end,” said Kang, “and it will be the same tomorrow. I think the first innings will be the most important. The Taiwanese pitchers are good, but our players have improved a lot. We should be able to take advantage of that.”스포츠토토
Kang Baek-ho added, “I think the final will be a tight game, not a big score like today. “If the batters give up the first run, I think our pitchers will be able to keep them at bay,” said Kang. In the first and second innings, I think we’re going to have to play a focused game from the first at-bat.”
The mood of the team is good enough for the final showdown. “The players are young and eager to play together,” said Kang Baek-ho. We’re going to rely on each other a lot,” he said. “We’ll do our best for tomorrow’s game. We want to play without any regrets.”