Kang Baek-ho (24-KT Wiz) is one of the most talked-about players on the South Korean national baseball team. He first earned his Taeguk-mark in his second year as a professional, and while his talent and skill have been recognized, he has often been the center of criticism on the international stage.
One of the most famous was the “ceremonial death” against Australia at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March. In the bottom of the seventh inning with South Korea trailing 4-5, Kim hit a double to left-center field with one out, but as soon as he reached second base, his foot slipped off the base and he was tagged out. South Korea went on to lose to Australia in the first round, and Kang was labeled a “traitor.
The Hangzhou Asian Games was his first major international tournament since then. He made the team, which was comprised of players aged 24 and under or in their fourth year of professional competition. Whereas before he was the youngest, now he is the most senior. Despite a poor mid-to-late season, the national team needed a mid-to-long-range batsman and chose Baek-ho again.
It got off to a bad start. Ryu Jung-il batted Kang Baek-ho at No. 4 in the group stage against Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei, but he went a combined 0-for-8 with four strikeouts in the two games. Especially in the most crucial game against Chinese Taipei, he missed multiple scoring opportunities, contributing to the 0-4 loss. Moved to the sixth spot to ease the pressure, he hit a two-run double against Thailand, but it was hardly enough to earn him much applause as Korea scored 17 runs in the fifth inning and ended the game cold.
The first time he ‘properly’ contributed to a win was against China on the sixth day of the tournament. He batted leadoff in the second inning and came home with Kim Joo-won for the game-winning two-run homer. In the top of the third inning, he hit a towering solo arch that looked like a home run the moment it was hit. It was Kang’s first home run in his fourth international tournament. He went 3-for-4 with a home run, one RBI, and two runs scored. He also drove in a run in South Korea’s 8-1 win. Coach Ryu praised all of his players for their performances and said, “Above all, it’s encouraging to see Kang Baek-ho’s hitting come alive.”
Kang Baek-ho is well aware of the unfavorable attention he has received in the past. “I’ve always felt a lot of pressure because I haven’t performed well in international tournaments,” he said after a pause, “but this time, I’m working harder to not disappoint the fans and to meet their expectations.
He didn’t smile when asked about the dual goals of reaching the finals for Korea and having a three-hit game with a home run. “I’m not happy about the home run, but I’m happy that I was able to make an impact in helping Korea win an important game, and I’m happy that I’m in better batting shape for the big game,” he said.
South Korea’s offense struggled in the group stage against Chinese Taipei, unable to get anything going against Taiwanese pitching, including 20-year-old left-handed starter Yeo Woo-min Lin (Arizona Diamondbacks minor league). However, the offense picked up steam in the Super Round games against Japan and China. Against China, all of the starting batters warmed up with hits. The team has given each other confidence that they can produce a different result than five days ago.
Kang Baek-ho said, “The Taiwanese pitchers were better than I expected, but our hitters have improved a lot. “I think it will be important for us to get the first run as soon as possible. “I think it’s going to be important for us to get on the board as early as possible, and if we can get some runs in the first inning or two, I think the pitchers will do a good job.토토사이트
“In international tournaments, every game is difficult (no matter who the opponent is). I think I’ll have to be more responsible and focused in the final against Taiwan, which is really important,” he said, adding, “I’ll do my best and play with no regrets.”