Two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. The score is only one run. How does the pitcher on the mound feel at this point?
Closer Park Sang-won (28) was there when Hanwha secured its sixth straight win. He pitched the bottom of the ninth inning against Kiwoom in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Tuesday.
Hanwha only led by one run, 9-8. Hanwha had a generous 9-2 lead in the top of the fourth inning, but was struggling against Kiwoom’s onslaught. With the game already in hand, Kiwoom went on the offensive in the bottom of the ninth. After Park Chan-hyuk and Kim Xiang singled, Kim Hye-sung drew a walk to load the bases with three outs.
Park was backed into a corner with two outs, but he didn’t shy away from facing Ronnie Dawson. He pushed with a fastball. He threw a 148-kilometer fastball to Dawson. Dawson’s bat quickly sailed past Park and it looked like it was going to go for an infield hit, but shortstop Lee Do-yoon was quicker. Lee caught Dawson’s throw and threw to first base, and Hanwha scored the game-winning run.
“Once again, I realize that baseball is never played alone,” said Park, who added, “Thank you so much to (Lee) Do-yoon. I’ll have to buy him a nice meal,” he said, thanking Lee Do-yoon for his efforts.
Park is playing a full-time season as a closer for the first time this year. Last year, he only had one save in his career, but this year, he already has 15 saves. In 45 games this season, he has a 5-3 record with 15 saves and a 2.48 ERA, fully establishing himself as Hanwha’s new closer.토토사이트
The pressure on a closer who is responsible for the final moments of a game is unimaginable. However, Park said, “I won’t be the only one under pressure. The Kiwoom batters were also in a hurry in the eighth inning because they couldn’t come back,” he said. “So I don’t put any pressure on myself and just do my best to help the team win, whether it’s one, two, or three runs.”
Park has contributed to Hanwha’s recent success with five saves in September alone. Hanwha swept a four-game series against Kiwoom, extending Pajuk’s winning streak to six games. It was the first time in 7,300 days that Hanwha swept a four-game series, including a doubleheader, since Daejeon LG Electronics on September 13-15, 2003.
But Park gave the credit to his hitters. “In the end, baseball is a game that cannot be won unless the batters score runs. No matter how well our pitchers pitch, our team score is zero. The bullpen is getting a lot of attention, but the hitters keep scoring runs for us, and that’s why we’re winning,” Park said.
We also wanted to know what it was like to play a full-time season as a closer for the first time since his professional debut. “I’m realizing that each ball is more precious and more important,” Park said. “I don’t have anyone behind me, but I think it’s still cool. In a way, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff. It’s dangerous to stand on the edge of a cliff, but the pictures taken from there are cool. I try to think of it in a good way.” The search for Jung Wooram’s successor, which has been one of Hanwha’s long-standing ambitions, is slowly coming to a close.