SSG Park Ji-hwan on his game-winning hit in the bottom of the 10th inning

“It was like a dream to be able to hit the final out and win the game”

SSG Landers’ Park Ji-hwan started at second base in the ninth spot in the lineup in the first game of a three-game midweek series against the Kia Tigers of the 2024 KBO League at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 11, going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs to lead the team to a 7-6 victory in extra innings.

The 2024 rookie infielder was sidelined for a period of time on April 30 against the Daejeon Hanwha Eagles after being hit by a sand dune. He was diagnosed with a microfracture of the metacarpal bone in his left hand and immediately began treatment and rehabilitation. After being out for over a month, Park made his first team debut on April 9 against the Sasik Lotte Giants.

Park went 3-for-7 with one home run, one RBI and two runs scored in both games of a doubleheader against Lotte on Sept. 9. His immediate impact on his first day back won back the favor of manager Lee Sung-yong, who said, “I moved (Park) up a little faster than I thought. When he came out and showed good pictures, it energized the team. In terms of batting, I’ll continue to use Ji-hwan for the time being.”

Park Ji-hwan also played the role of the ‘Heavenly Prince’ in the 11th game. After striking out in his first two at-bats, he produced a long ball in his third at-bat in the bottom of the sixth inning. He continued his good hitting form with a double to left field off Kia’s new pitcher Jang Hyun-sik.

The decisive moment came later in the game. SSG was tied 4-4 with KIA until the sixth inning, but gave up a solo home run to KIA’s Choi Hyung-woo in the top of the seventh inning. However, with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Park Ji-hwan hit a two-run triple to the back right side of the infield to make it 6-5.

Park would go on to become the hero, but SSG blew a chance to tie the game in the top of the ninth. SSG had two outs in the bottom of the ninth 토토 when Lee Ji-young hit a single down the left field line to bring in Guillermo Heredia from second base, but the umpire called the runner out at home to end the game. He didn’t even get a chance for an extra replay because he had exhausted the video review. On the slow replay, Heredia’s right hand clearly touched home plate. It was a blown call.

Just when hopes were dashed, Park stepped up to the plate. In the bottom of the 10th inning, Park stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and hit a single to right-center field. This time, it was a close call at home, but the umpire’s call was safe. Kia appealed for a video review, but the call was upheld. The SSG rookie infielder capped off the eventful game with an RBI single to end the extra innings.

After the game, Park said, “I felt like my timing was off in my first two at-bats, so I tried to hit a little more in front of the plate, and it paid off. Especially in the bottom of the 10th inning, I had a chance and it was a dream come true to be able to hit the game-winning hit and help my team win, which has been a dream since I was a high school player.”

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