Can Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon, gold medalists at the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, lead the NC Dinos’ upset in their team’s semi-playoff. NC will play the first game of the 2023 KBO postseason semi-playoff against SSG Landers at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on the 22nd.
SSG (76 wins, 3 draws and 65 losses) was one step ahead in the regular league. NC clashed with SSG for third place until the last minute, but had to be satisfied with fourth place (75 wins, 2 draws and 67 losses) by kneeling in both consecutive games of the Gwangju KIA Tigers from the 16th to the 17th.
However, NC did not give up. He defeated the fifth-ranked Doosan Bears (74 wins, 2 draws and 68 losses) 14-9 in the first round of the wild card game (two wins) on the 19th. Those who had one win due to the advantage of fourth place won a ticket to the semi-playoff in one game.
There was also income. That is Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-jun’s great performance. Coincidentally, they have something in common that they led Korea to win the Hangzhou Asian Games with their outstanding performance. 슬롯머신
First of all, Kim Joo-won, who was nominated by NC with the sixth overall pick in the second round in 2021, is a right-handed shortstop with a batting average of 0.232 (195 hits in 842 at-bats) and 25 home runs and 117 RBIs in 292 games so far this year. He fell into a severe slump in the middle of this season, but overcame it by revising his batting form more concisely. At the Asian Games, he also showed off his long-distance power by drawing two arches.
And Kim Joo-won’s performance shone in the first round of the wild card game. In particular, he performed the lake monument several times. The first scene came at the beginning of the first inning. At the time, NC starter Tanner Turley shook and was driven to second and third bases with one out. Yang Eui-ji is the follow-up hitter.
Yang Eui-ji hit a grounder to shortstop, and Kim Joo-won caught it leisurely. A situation where most players would prefer to catch a stable outcount by spraying the ball to first base. But it changed Kim Joo-won. He quickly threw to third base and caught second baseman Jose Rojas, who was rushing to third base. It was a defense that did not prevent the third baseman from scoring, but did not allow any more runs.
Kim Joo-won, who gained momentum, also showed outstanding defensive skills in the top of the second inning when NC was trailing 0-2. He caught a deep ball hit by Huh Kyung-min and sprayed the ball to first base with a smooth movement to increase the out count. In the continued third base with one out, he caught Cho Ha-haeng’s fastball and threw it to first base at the same time as blocking third baseman Kim In-tae’s advance base. In the end, NC was able to finish the inning without any more runs. He also once again caught a three-way hit by leadoff hitter Huh Kyung-min in the top of the fourth inning and put him out.
His presence at the plate was also huge. He hit a right-handed hit in the bottom of the seventh inning, and in the bottom of the eighth inning, he hit a two-run timely hit over the shortstop’s height with two outs and runners on second and third bases. The final score was 2 hits and 2 RBIs in 4 at-bats.
The background of Kim Joo-won’s good performance was his experience in Hangzhou. “I think I’m less nervous because I played a big game first (in the Asian Games),” he said before the wild card game, vowing, “I’ll focus the same as I did in international competitions.”
Kim Hyung-joon, the mastermind of the show, was also very good. Kim Hyung-joon, who was nominated by NC as the No. 9 overall pick in the second round in 2018, has played 185 games so far this year with a batting average of 0.229 (76 hits in 332 times at bat) and 11 home runs and 35 RBIs. Although he suffered from frequent injuries last year and this season, he led pitchers well as the main catcher at the Hangzhou Asian Games, contributing to Korea’s victory.
Kim Hyung-joon, who minimized the number of runs with a stable pitcher lead and a sharp steal blocking, also played a key role in NC’s offense. He turned to a grounder to second base in the bottom of the third inning, but appeared at the plate as a follow-up hitter to Seo Ho-chul, who hit a come-from-behind grand slam in the bottom of the fourth inning, exploded a solo arch against Doosan starter Kwak Bin to hit consecutive home runs. This is the first time that a back-to-back hitter home run has been made in a wild card game.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Kim Hyung-joon turned his bat fiercely. With two outs and runners on the first and second bases, NC was leading 11-6, he targeted Hong Gun-hee’s four-ball 137km slider and scored a three-run victory over the left fence. The final score was two hits, two homers, four RBIs and two runs from five times at bat.
Kim Hyung-joon also said that his experience in Hangzhou was very helpful. Kim Hyung-joon, who met after the game, said, “I’ve changed a lot since I went to the Asian Games. I think I have more leeway,” he said. “I played important matches in international competitions such as the Asian Games. Feeling the tension at that time, there was tension even though we played important games such as wild card games today, but there was no feeling of shaking or flopping. I think the Asian Games helped,” he nodded.
NC ranked third in this category with a team batting average of 0.270 in the regular league this season. But the weaknesses were also evident. That is, there is a wide gap between the top and bottom lines. Compared to the top lineup, which includes Son Ah-seop, Park Gun-woo, and Park Min-woo, the bottom lineup was somewhat less heavy. However, in the wild card game, Asian Games gold medalists Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon and Seo Ho-chul (three hits, one home run and six RBIs in four at-bats) showed great presence, offsetting this weakness to some extent and meeting with SSG.
Will Kim Joo-won and Kim Hyung-joon be able to lead NC to a higher place by showing great performance in the semi-playoffs starting today. Amid much attention, NC will put right-hander Shin Min-hyuk as a starting pitcher on the day. He received a rather disappointing report card in this year’s regular league with five wins, five losses and a 3.98 ERA, but he threw only 48 balls in the match against Gwangju KIA on the 17th, his last appearance, showing a good pitching that prevented five innings with two hits, five strikeouts and no runs.