“Hitting Signs at 3B” Rookie duo shines with boldness and focus

It was a close game. A rookie was at the center of the victory.

SSG won 3-1 away from home against the Doosan Bears at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on Tuesday. The win was SSG’s second in a row, improving their record to 41-1-40 on the season and securing a 5 percent winning percentage. After winning 6-0 the previous day (29th), SSG completed the three-game weekend series against Doosan with a sweep.

“We were able to win today because of the performance of our two rookies, (Park) Ji-hwan and (Jung) Hyun-seung, who are the future of the team,” said SSG coach Lee Sung-yong after the game.

Two plays caught his eye. In the top of the second inning, SSG had runners on first and third. At the plate was Park Ji-hwan, who was drafted in the first round (10th overall) of the 2024 KBO Draft. The ball count was in favor of 3B. Normally, 3Bs watch one ball. However, Park’s bat took a bold swing at the ball. It was a fly ball to center field, allowing Park to score from third base.

“I saw the boldness of Ji-hwan, who gave the hit sign to 3B and connected it with a sacrifice fly,” said Lee.

The other moment came from Jeong Hyun-seung, who was drafted in the sixth round (60th overall). With the score tied 1-1 in the top of the eighth inning, Jeong lined a fastball from Doosan closer Kim Taek-yeon to center field. The runner from third came home to score the game-winning run. “I saw Hyun-seung’s concentration in the eighth inning when he hit the game-winning hit at a crucial moment,” Lee said.

“I’m looking forward to seeing him grow in the future,” Lee said of the rookie’s performance.

On the pitching staff, Oh Won-seok pitched five scoreless innings, followed by Noh Kyung-eun (one run in one inning), Lee I-roon (one run in ⅓ inning), Cho Byung-hyun (one run in 1⅔ innings), and Moon Seung-won (one run in 1 inning) to secure the victory.

There was also a record. Cho Byung-hyun retired the first four batters of the day, extending his streak to 10 consecutive batters since striking out Jung Jun-young in the 야설 top of the seventh inning against KT in Incheon on May 26. It is the second-longest streak in history, tied by Lee Dae-jin of Haetae on May 14, 1998.

Lee said, “Starter (Oh) Won-seok fulfilled his role as a starting pitcher, especially showing his crisis management skills and pitching a no-hitter. Also, (Cho) Byung-hyun struck out 10 batters in a row, so I congratulate him and thank him for being a great support for the team in times of need.”

SSG will play its final three-game series of the first half against the NC Dinos at the NC Park in Changwon on April 2. Lee concluded, “The players showed one-team focus and ended the weekend with a win. We will travel to Changwon with good momentum,” said Lee.

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