‘No. 467 Home Run’ Choi Jung-jeong “I was feeling a lot of pressure…I got a hit in the seventh inning and felt relaxed”

SSG Landers slugger Choi Jung (37), who just became the KBO’s all-time leader in career home runs, admits he was under a lot of pressure.

“I actually felt more relaxed after tying the record,” said Choi, who is now one home run away from the record.

Choi started at third base against the Kia Tigers of the 2024 Shinhan SolBank KBO League at SSG Landers Field in Incheon, South Korea, on Saturday and hit a solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

It was Choi’s ninth home run of the season and the 467th of his career. Choi moved into a tie for the KBO’s career home run lead with Lee Seung-yeop.

Choi didn’t hit a home run in his first four at-bats until the seventh inning, and it looked like he would have to wait until the next at-bat to tie the record.

After grounding out to shortstop in the second inning, Choi hit a fly ball to right field in the third inning and struck out against Jang Hyun-sik in the fifth inning.

However, Choi warmed up with a single to left in the bottom of the seventh and then hit a dramatic game-winning solo home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with SSG trailing 3-4.

Facing Kia reliever Jung Hae-young, Choi let three pitches fly and then watched the fourth strike.

On a 3-pitch, 1-strike count, Choi pulled a 147-kilometer-per-hour fastball outside on the fifth pitch for a solo arch over the left-center field fence.

It was the moment Choi joined Lee Seung-yeop in the circle.

After tying the game in dramatic fashion, SSG went on to win 6-4 when Han Yoo-seom hit a two-run homer with the bases loaded.

After the game, Choi said, “I thought we could win if we tied the game, but it feels good to hit a home run to tie the game,” adding, “I’m honored to set a tie record.”

“I felt comfortable coming up to bat with two outs in the ninth inning. I didn’t think I was going to hit a home run, but I knew the pitch count was in my favor, the type of pitch Jeong was going to throw and the course, so I aimed for it. I timed it right and it went over the fence for a home run,” Choi said.

Choi said that the moment she hit the home run, she felt like she had done it. “I thought it was going to be hard because the ball was so good,” he said, “and I would have felt good even if it was just a hit, not a home run.”

Before the game, Choi said he tried not to think about the KBO’s all-time home run record as much as possible, but once the game started, he felt the pressure.

“I was focused at the plate, but I felt a lot of pressure because it was a home game. “I felt more pressure because KIA catcher Kim Tae-gun said, ‘The whole country is interested in home runs,'” Choi said, adding, “I started to imagine strange things.

“I started to imagine strange things, got greedy, and swung at ridiculous pitches,” he said, adding, “I should have kept my zone and batted calmly. When I faced Jang Hyun-sik at the end of the fifth inning, I got greedy and struck out after swinging wildly at the pitch,” he recalled.

A hit in the bottom of the seventh inning eased her 토토사이트 mind and led to a home run in her final at-bat in the bottom of the ninth.

Choi said, “My head was spinning because the results were not going well. I was worried about whether my batting balance was off because I was thinking about the home run,” Choi said. “But when I got the hit, I felt relaxed. Today, I was able to play with the mindset that I was satisfied with one hit. The home run in the ninth inning was a good sign that I was warmed up.”

Choi might not have returned to the plate in the bottom of the ninth if Go Myung-joon hadn’t singled to left and Lee Ji-young had walked in the bottom of the eighth.

“With two batters on base in the eighth inning, I prepared myself. If I had come to bat in the ninth inning with a chance, I might have felt overwhelmed and it might not have worked out, but after two outs, I was able to relax and make a bold move.”

Choi, who was more of a medium-to-long range hitter, changed his swing and became a home run hitter in 2012. After changing his batting stance, Choi hit 26 home runs in 2012, up from 20 in 2011.

After studying and refining his batting stance every year, Choi hit 40 home runs in 2016 to win the home run title for the first time since his debut, and in 2017, he hit a career-high 46 home runs to win the title for the second consecutive year.

“I never thought of myself as a home run hitter,” Choi said. But since 2012, my hitting mechanics have changed. “In 2012, I hit a mid-month home run against Kang Yoon-koo of the Nexen Heroes (now Kiwoom), and it was a feeling I hadn’t felt before. I kept practicing with that feeling, and when the ball started to float, it went far,” he recalled.

Lee played 15 seasons in the KBO, excluding 2004-2011, when he played in Nippon Professional Baseball, and hit 467 home runs. He has 626 career home runs between Korea and Japan.

Choi, who has played exclusively in the KBO since his professional debut, hit his 467th home run in his 20th year as a professional.

“It’s a really honorable record, but I don’t think it’s really surpassing Lee Seung-yeop,” Choi said.

Although he usually watches game highlights more than once, Choi plans to watch this game multiple times.

“I usually only watch the video once after the game. I don’t want to remember it over and over again. I don’t want to keep remembering it.” “But today’s match, I’m going to watch it several times. (Han) Yoo Seom hit a great shot,” Choi said.

Being just one shot shy of the record could be another pressure point, but Choi said, “I think I’ll feel the same way tomorrow. Even though I’m one away from the record, I feel more relaxed.”

Now, every time Choi hits a home run, he changes the history of the KBO. With 33 more home runs, he will become the first player in KBO history to reach the 500-homer plateau.

“I will only think about hitting double-digit home runs every year until I retire,” Choi emphasized.

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