In the first game of the best-of-five semi-finals of the KBO postseason at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on Nov. 22, Roenis Elias (35-SSG Landers) quickly eliminated the NC Dinos batters one by one.
At least until Sung-wook Kim (30-NC) came in as a pinch-hitter, it was the kind of pitching that would go down in KBO fall baseball history.
With the score tied at 0-0 in the top of the eighth inning against Elias, Kim responded with a two-run home run over the left field fence on a fastball.
Kim, who came up to bat against Elias’ 150-mile-per-hour fastball, saw a changeup in the middle of the strike zone.
With a simple swing, Kim sprinted to first base and then home.
It was his eighth career Semifinal home run and 28th of the postseason.
Elias, who had cruised through the seventh inning holding NC to just two hits and no runs, looked up in surprise at Kim’s big hit, but the ball cleared the fence.
The two-run homer by Kim Sung-wook and RBI singles by Jason Martin and Seo Ho-cheol in the top of the ninth inning gave NC a 4-3 victory over SSG and a sweep.
Kim Sung-wook was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the first day of the Quarterfinals and received $1 million in prize money.
Kim Sung-wook, who joined NC in 2012 as the 32nd overall pick in the third round, is one of only three remaining ‘NC original draft picks’.
Infielder Park Min-woo has established himself as one of the best second basemen in the league, while pitcher Lee Min-ho has been one of the best bullpen arms in the league but hasn’t made the first team this year due to injury.
Kim Sung-wook, who was highly touted as a hotshot prospect, continued to get opportunities this season, but he didn’t have much to show for it, batting .223 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in the regular season.
His lack of batting accuracy is a weakness, but his occasional long balls have earned him a spot on the Semi-Po roster.
And as expected from the bench, he delivered an off-balance shot at the most crucial moment.
Kim Sung-wook celebrates with teammates
In the postseason, teams with one so-called “crazy player” can easily sweep a series.
In the first game of the wild-card deciding series against the Doosan Bears, Seo Ho-cheol swept six hits, including a grand slam, and Kim Hyung-jun hit two home runs.메이저사이트
Both were “surprise performances” from the bottom of the order.
“I want Oh Young-soo, who is starting at first base, to have a good batting sense and be a crazy player,” NC coach Kang In-hwa said before the game.
Oh went 0-for-2, but Kim Sung-wook, who pinch-hit for Oh in the eighth inning, answered Kang’s faith.
After the game, Kim Sung-wook said, “I was told to always be ready to pinch-hit. I’m trying to keep my confidence up these days, and having the mindset that I can hit unconditionally led to a good result.”
“I don’t have a lot of pressure (for a big game). I just go into it feeling excited. I think, ‘When will I get to play baseball in this environment,'” he said.
Kim Sung-wook, MVP of Game 1 of the semifinals
Many final home run hitters say they “knew it was going over” the moment it hit.
But Kim Sung-wook said, “I didn’t think it was a home run at first. I was thinking, ‘Please let it go. It was good because it reminded me of the home runs I hit in the postseason before,” he smiled.
After getting a taste of home in Game 1, Kim Sung-wook came back strong with a 3-for-6 performance against SSG’s Game 2 starter Kim Kwang-hyun, 35.
“The first time I faced him, I thought it would be fun because I only watched him on TV. I got a hit and built up my confidence. I think it will continue,” he said, predicting a strong performance in the fall.