After the game between KIA and LG at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on August 8, the stadium was in full swing for the next day’s doubleheader starting at 2pm. There was a rush to get the field and bleachers ready as quickly as possible.
The KIA players, who were supposed to be resting for the next day’s doubleheader, took the field again. Dressed in casual clothes, they picked up their bats one by one, for the extra innings. One by one, they took the field for some more batting practice and called it a day. Go Jong-wook (34) and Oh Seon-woo (34) were the first two players to take the field.
Oh is still a young player. He hasn’t had enough opportunities to play in the field. As long as he has the stamina to do so, he can play extra innings to get a feel for hitting. Ko Jong-wook is the opposite. He”s a veteran in his mid-30s. On top of that, he’s an accomplished player with a .304 career batting average in 1006 KBO games. His ability to make contact is still very strong. Considering his age and performance, he’s not a player you’d normally put in a specialty group.
But Ko Jong-wook was one of the first to come out and hit the balls in silence, adjusting his timing, sometimes pulling, sometimes pushing. Chatting affectionately with the juniors, he set a good tone for the rest of the training.
Go Jong-wook is not a starter in the current KIA lineup. There are plenty of good players in the outfield. The designated hitter is Choi Hyung-woo. So he’s usually used as a pinch-hitter against right-handers in clutch situations. If I don’t have that option, or if the game is close early, I might just sit in the dugout and watch the game. This was the case in the 8th game, and the specialty of the night was that Ko Jong-wook, who hadn’t gotten a single at-bat, tried to keep his hitting going.
On the 9th, he had a double-header against LG, and his efforts paid off. In Games 1 and 2, he came through with big hits at crucial moments to help his team win. The doubleheader sweep could not have happened without him.
In Game 1, we were down 5-6 in the eighth inning. After the first inning, Kim Sun-bin and Lee Woo-sung singled. With runners on first and second, the KIA bench brought in Jong-wook Ko, who accurately took a five-pitch forkball from Yoo Young-chan for a single to right. The game was back to even. KIA scored the final run two innings later when Park Chan-ho singled to center field to complete the thrilling comeback. In a tight spot, LG lost Game 1 due to a favorable starting matchup.
In Game 2, he came to the plate again to turn the tide of the game. In the fifth inning, with their team trailing 3-5, KIA loaded the bases with no outs as Na Sung-bum, Socrates, and Kim Sun-bin hit singles. At this point, LG switched pitchers to Park Myung-geun and KIA switched batters to Go Jong-wook. Another run came off the bat of Ko Jong-wook. It wasn’t a great pitch, but he did his job by hitting a single to center field. With the momentum in their favor, KIA was able to turn the tide in the next batter, another pinch-hitter, Choi Hyung-woo, with a walk-off home run. This led to a 12-7 victory.
Go is now batting .316 in 88 games this year. He has 61 hits, many of which have come at crucial moments. He has five game-winning hits this season. He is third on the team behind Choi Hyung-woo (14) and Na Sung-beom (6). In his last five games, all of them as a pinch-hitter, he’s gone 5-for-4 and has gotten all of those crucial hits.
In fact, it’s hard for pinch-hitters to maintain a consistent batting average. Players who are in the game are in the rhythm of the game together and are naturally focused. However, a substitute in the dugout is not 100% in the flow of the game, so it’s hard to stay focused. It’s hard to be ready for an opportunity that could come at any moment. Add to that the fact that you only get one or two at-bats per game, and it’s impossible to stay 100% on top of your game.스포츠토토
However, Ko Jong-wook overcomes this with thorough preparation, study, and focus. He knows exactly what he needs to do. After the doubleheader on the 9th, he said, “The main thing that helped me was analyzing the opposing pitchers during the game. “I kept checking what pitchers they were going to use, and I kept picking out certain players and drawing situations. In some ways, that’s what a veteran does.
After the doubleheader sweep, Ko Jong-wook said, “I’m glad I was able to come in and get a hit when we needed to score and give the team a chance to win. I’m grateful to the coach for trusting me and giving me a chance at a crucial moment,” he said, adding, “I think we were able to win because all the players didn’t give up and didn’t lose focus in our chances. I think the victory is even more precious because everyone did their best to make it happen,” he added. Even now, KIA’s expert sniper is probably looking at the opponent analyzing his next target.