Pinch-hitter to Game 1 MVP, Kim Sung-wook awakens to ‘Autumn DNA,’

The NC Dinos won the first round of the semifinals against the SSG Landers. Substitute Kim Sung-wook did it.

The NC Dinos won Game 1 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League postseason semifinals against the SSG Landers 4-3 at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 22. NC has an 87.5% chance of qualifying for the playoffs with the first-round win.

A two-run home run by pinch-hitter Kim Sung-wook in the eighth inning gave NC a one-game lead in the best-of-five series. Having won the wild-card game, NC will look for an upset.

It was a tight pitching battle until the seventh inning. The NC offense was stymied by SSG starter Roenis Elias, but NC starter Shin Min-hyuk pitched 5⅔ scoreless innings and Kim Young-gyu followed with 1⅓ scoreless innings.

In the top of the eighth inning, Kim Sung-wook came to the plate as a pinch hitter and eventually chased Elias, who had pitched a no-hitter. Prior to joining the team, Kim hit a home run in the 2016 playoffs and a home run in the 2017 playoffs. The 12-year veteran outfielder has also played in the Korean Series in 2016 and 2020. He was even a member of the 2020 championship team.

Kim Sung-wook, who returned to the team this season after a stint in the military, didn’t miss a beat in the fall. He was named the Daily MVP of Game 1 of the semi-finals and received a prize of 1 million won. Here’s what Kim had to say after the game.

  • Looking back at the home run situation.

I came in as a pinch hitter, and there was no particular order. They always tell you to be ready to go, and I’ve been working on my mental game lately, and I was confident. I was like, “I can hit it,” and it worked out. I wasn’t thinking about a home run, but when (the pitch) went over, it reminded me of the one I hit in the postseason, so it was nice.

  • Advice to the younger guys.

It’s still a long way to go. I tell them to just keep doing what they’re doing.

  • We’ve been strong against foreign pitchers.

I don’t know why. (Kwon) Hee-dong and other older brothers would laugh and say, ‘You don’t fit in with Korea.

  • Do you have big-game DNA?

I don’t feel any pressure. I’m just mentally excited.

  • The outfield was solidified between the armies.

The season is over. Now it’s the postseason. It’s my job to prepare myself to perform like I did today.

  • You were strong against Kim Kwang-hyun.

I don’t have a secret, but the first time I faced him as a kid, I only saw him on TV and thought, ‘This is 스포츠토토 going to be fun.’ Then I started getting hits and gained confidence.

  • It’s been a long time since I’ve played fall baseball.

It feels good to be back in fall baseball again. I wonder if I am a symbol of good luck. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. I’ll do my best to help.

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