“A high four-seamer to the front of the order? I’m used to it. When I was in LG, pitchers always chose me over (Kim) Hyun-soo.”
Hanwha Eagles’ Chae Eun-sung was smiling. It was the pride of a veteran who had just led his team to victory.
Hanwha secured a 5-4 victory in the eighth game of the season against the Lotte Giants at Busan’s Sajik Stadium on Friday, thanks to Chae’s game-winning hit in the top of the 10th inning.
It was a hard-fought win for Hanwha. It was the second consecutive four-hour game after the previous day (3 hours and 58 minutes), but both ended in Hanwha’s favor.
The victory was especially significant because it came after a late rally by Lotte. Leading 4-2, Hanwha scored single runs in the eighth and ninth innings to force extra innings, but the team kept the momentum going and closed out the game with Chae Eun-sung’s clutch hit.
“When I had runners on first and second and third, I felt like I was going to win the game,” Chae said after the game. In the bottom of the first inning, Chae Eun-sung hit a 135-kilometer fastball from Lotte’s Shin Jeong-rak for the game-winning run.
“I think Noh has a good feel for it, and you usually have a better chance (of fielding it) when you have a full count, so you usually fill it up somehow 안전놀이터. And I was expecting it because I wasn’t getting good pitches the whole time. I was trying to hit it in a fastball count before it got crowded. I went into the at-bat with a light heart.”
Chae Eun-sung responded to the ‘Noh Si-hwan and Chae Eun-sung’ situation by saying, “I don’t mind at all. I’m just grateful that they gave me a chance, and I’ve never felt bad about it. Even when I was at LG, they always chose me over Hyunsoo Hyung,” she replied. He said that he timed his pitches with the mindset of not being late to the plate. It proved the value of the 9 billion won free agent.
The day before, Chae Eun-sung made a splash when she blocked a flying ball with her bat in front of the broadcasters’ cameras. “The camera director bought me coffee because he didn’t have to write a police report because of me. I was very happy,” she said, smiling broadly.
Lee Jin-young, Moon Hyun-bin, Noh Si-hwan, and other young batters are doing well, “It’s good that they see the ball well and their timing is not bad. In June, our batting indicators are good. I want them to believe in themselves and hit more boldly,” he said. He also entertained the dugout by dedicating his bat to Moon Hyun-bin, who had just returned from a two-game home run streak.
“If you lose confidence, you’ll get pushed around. You can only know if it’s a hit or an out if you turn the bat boldly. I tell them not to hesitate and to go into the at-bat with a ‘yeah, I’m going to get it’ mentality. I think once you get one or two more wins like this, you’ll feel more confident.”