“I ran the bases no matter what”
Doosan Bears’ Kang Seung-ho started at first base and batted sixth in the 12th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the KIA Tigers at Gwangju-Kia Champions Field on Friday.
The game against KIA was very important for Doosan. Before the game, they were only one game behind KIA. Of course, we won’t know the exact outcome until the end of the season, but this three-game series was bound to have a huge impact on the standings when all is said and done, and this one sentence is enough to summarize it. Kang Seung-ho creates a KBO League “first”.
Kang Seung-ho had been hitting at a peak in his last 10 games, batting .345 with 10 hits, five RBIs, five runs scored, and a .345 on-base percentage, and that trend continued. Kang Seung-ho got off to a good start in the top of the first inning, drawing a walk off KIA starter Yoon Young-chul in his first at-bat with runners on second and third in scoring position. Although it didn’t lead to a run, it perfectly fulfilled the role of a ‘link’.
It was in the third inning that the bats started to explode. With the score tied 1-1 and the bases loaded, Kang Seung-ho took advantage of Yoon Young-chul’s two-pitch, 126-kilometer changeup in the middle of the strike zone. Kang Seung-ho hit it straight down the left field line and it sailed over the fence and never came back. His sixth home run of the season traveled 110 meters, but that was just the beginning.
In his third at-bat, Kang Seung-ho was once again the “fixer”. Down 2-5 in the top of the fifth inning, Kang faced KIA’s new pitcher Kim Jae-yeol with runners on first and third. After a back-and-forth battle that lasted seven pitches, Kang Seung-ho got a good look at the 145-kilometer fastball, this time hitting it right down the middle of the plate. Not only did it bring home Yang Ji, the third baseman, but it also scored Kim Jae-hwan, the first baseman. In addition, Kang Seung-ho tied the game on a single by the next batter, Heo Kyung-min.
With his home run and triple raising the possibility of a ‘cycling hit’, Kang Seung-ho increased his chances of achieving a cycling hit in the top of the seventh inning with the bases loaded and no outs, this time against Lim Ki-young. In his final at-bat in the top of the ninth inning, he took a slider from KIA’s ‘closer’ Jung Hae-young and hit an infield single in front of the pitcher to complete the cycle.
Thanks to Kang Seung-ho’s heroics, Doosan secured a thrilling 8-6 comeback victory and closed the gap on KIA (5th place). They also narrowed the gap between them and SSG Landers (4th place) to 0.5 games. “Today was Kang Seung-ho’s day,” said head coach Lee Seung-yeop after the game, “His record for cycling hits is great, but all of them came when the team really needed them. I sincerely congratulate him on his first personal record and the 30th in history.” He gave a thumbs up. 안전놀이터
After the game, Yang, Jose Rojas, and the rest of the team prepared a “surprise” for Seung-ho by mixing water and ionized beverages to celebrate. He also gave an interview to the broadcasters.