“The most important thing is that we have continued our winning streak.”
Hwang Jae-kyun, who led the 메이저놀이터 KT Wiz to 7 consecutive victories by hitting the final shot in his 1900th appearance in the KBO League, delivered his impressions.
Hwang Jae-gyun started as a fifth hitter and third baseman in an away game against the Doosan Bears in the 2023 professional baseball KBO League held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the 4th.
Hwang Jae-kyun, who got a walk from opposing starting pitcher Kim Dong-ju in the first at-bat in the first inning, reported the first hit in the top of the third inning when KT was leading 1-0. In a situation where there was no runner in the first company, Kim Dong-joo attacked the 136km fork in the second pitch and produced an infield hit for the shortstop. Unfortunately, the follow-up hitter Lee Ho-yeon failed to score as he ended up with a double hit to the second baseman.
In the top of the 5th inning, Hwang Jae-gyun’s bat returned to the shortstop’s grounder, and in the top of the 7th inning, where both teams were tied 2-2, the bat returned fiercely. From 2nd out and 1st base, Doosan right-hander reliever Jeong Cheol-won’s 3-pitch 147km fastball pushed through, creating a two-run arch that slightly crossed the right wall. Hwang Jae-kyun’s season 2 gun.
Afterwards, KT allowed one point at the end of the 8th inning with Kim In-tae’s 1 RBI and a timely hit, but did not give up any more runs and completed a 4-3 victory. As a result, KT, who achieved 7 consecutive wins in 391 days since the match against Lotte Giants in Suwon on July 9 of last year, recorded 48 wins, 2 draws and 43 losses, surpassing Doosan (46 wins, 1 draw and 43 losses) and rose to third place. KT’s third place was 107 days after the Suwon SSG Landers match on April 19th.
Hwang Jae-kyun, who led KT to victory with a final batting performance of 3 at-bats, 2 hits, 1 home run, 2 RBIs, 1 walk and 1 point, said after the game, “The most important thing is that we have continued our winning streak.” I just tried to get it right somehow, but I think it hit the right timing and the final home run came out. I thought he went over the moment he was hit, but he went over slightly more than expected, so I was a little embarrassed,” he said, looking back at the moment he hit the final gun.
Hwang Jae-kyun, who hit double-digit home runs in one season, is not able to achieve many arches this year. Including this day, he has hit only two home runs this season.
Hwang Jae-kyun laughed at this, saying, “It can’t be helped that there is no home run,” and then said, “At first, I became very conscious, but now that there are many hits and the team keeps winning, I have abandoned my greed in that part. Now, I’m just going with the feeling of hitting a final hit or an RBI when it’s really important,” he emphasized.
On this day, KT was pursued fiercely by Doosan at the end of the game. At the end of the 8th inning, they gave up 1 run, and at the end of the 9th, they faced a desperate crisis with 2 outs on 1st and 2nd base. Fortunately, it struggled, but it didn’t happen until the moment when bullpen resources Son Dong-hyun (hole, 1 run, 1 inning, no score) and Park Young-hyun (three, 1.1 innings, no run) blocked Doosan’s lineup and gave up a tie or turnaround.
Hwang Jae-gyun said, “There are more games won thanks to Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun. It is an unavoidable part of the ground. It’s not that those players can’t throw because they want to throw. It was okay to get hit, so I just kept saying that so that it would be comfortable for me.”
Suffering from extreme sluggishness, KT, which fell into the ‘last place’ until June 4th, has recently been on a strong upward trend. Of course, after about two months, they escaped from the bottom, and now they are in 3rd place, which can overtake the lead.
This driving force has a strong starting pitching team. In particular, the recent KT starters have achieved a record of 7 consecutive quality starts (6 or more innings and 3 earned runs or less as a starter), including the exclusion of the starters that day.
Hwang Jae-kyun said, “We have a very good pitching team. Because the starting pitcher held up well, we were able to continue our winning streak, and even if we lost once, the losing streak was not long. I am always grateful to the pitchers for that,” he said sincerely.
Of course, this is the result of the addition of veterans, including Hwang Jae-gyun. Before this game, KT coach Lee Kang-cheol said, “As the starting team endures, it leads to a trend in which veteran hitters do not miss opportunities that come once or twice in a game. Seungwoon seems to follow,” he smiled.
Hwang Jae-gyun said, “There is a difference between what veterans can do and what young players can do. Still, there are seniors in our team, so we are doing well together. The younger players also follow us well, so the team atmosphere seems to be going well,” he nodded.
He said, “Even if I lose once, I can win again tomorrow anyway, so I just say let’s relax. And even if you lose, the current team atmosphere doesn’t sink or anything like that,” he added.
Hwang Jae-kyun, who started his professional life after being nominated by the Hyundai Unicorns with the overall number 24 in the 2nd 3rd round in 2006, has been wearing a uniform since the 2018 season after going through the Heroes, Lotte Giants, and San Francisco Giants (MLB). This match against Doosan was his 1900th appearance in the KBO league. This is the 28th record in KBO league history.
Hearing this, Hwang Jae-kyun smiled and said, “I don’t know when that happened. The story of being that old,” he said, “I am grateful. First of all, I am grateful for going to many matches. Also, since he went out without getting so many injuries, I think, ‘You’ve played baseball for a long time’.”
Despite the heat wave and the away game, many fans gathered at Jamsil Baseball Stadium that day to support KT’s 7th consecutive victory.
Hwang Jae-gyun said, “Seeing that you come to the baseball field even in this weather, it seems that you really like baseball. It feels great,” he said. “The players feel grateful for always coming. I will try to repay you by running hard,” he bowed his head.