KT’s Hwang Jae-gyun “It’s important to keep the winning streak going” in his 1900th career game
“The most important thing is that we continued our winning streak.”
That’s what Hwang Jae-gyun said after hitting a grand slam in his 1900th career KBO game to lead the KT Wiz to their seventh straight win.
Hwang Jae-gyun started as the fifth outfielder and third baseman against the Doosan Bears in the 2023 KBO Baseball League on Thursday at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul.
After drawing a walk from opposing starter Kim Dong-joo in the top of the first inning, Hwang Jae-gyun recorded his first hit in the top of the third inning to give KT a 1-0 lead. With the bases loaded, he took advantage of Kim Dong-joo’s two-pitch 136-kilometer fork and lined it to the shortstop for an infield hit. Unfortunately, the next batter, Lee Ho-yeon, could only hit a grounder to second base.
After a grounder to shortstop in the top of the fifth, Hwang Jae-gyun’s bat came alive in the top of the seventh with the score tied at 2-2. With two on and one out, he drove a three-pitch 147-kilometer fastball from Doosan right-handed reliever Jung Chul-won over the right field fence for a two-run arch. It was Hwang’s second home run of the season.
KT then gave up a run in the bottom of the eighth on Kim In-tae’s RBI single to center field, but did not allow any more runs to complete the 4-3 victory. With the win, KT, which won its seventh straight game in a whopping 391 days since July 9 last year against the Suwon Lotte Giants, moved into third place with 48 wins, two draws and 43 losses, ahead of Doosan (46 wins, one draw). KT’s third-place finish came 107 days after its last win against the Suwon SSG Landers on April 19.
“The most important thing is that we continued our winning streak,” said Hwang Jae-gyun after the game, who finished 2-for-3 with a home run, two doubles, two RBIs, one walk, and one run scored. “I didn’t think I was going to hit a home run today, I was just trying to get it right somehow, and I think it came at a good time. I thought it went over when it went over, but it went over a little bit more than I expected, so I was a little bit surprised,” he said, reflecting on the moment he hit the game-winner.
Hwang, who used to hit double-digit home runs a season, hasn’t had much of an arch this year. Including today, he has only hit two home runs this season.
Hwang laughed and said, “It’s inevitable that home runs don’t come,” before adding, “At first, I was very conscious, but now that I’m getting a lot of hits and the team is winning, I’ve lost my greed in that area. Now, I’m just going with the feeling of hitting the game-winning hit or RBI when it really matters,” he emphasized.
On the day, KT faced a strong charge from Doosan in the final innings. They gave up one run in the eighth inning and faced a clutch situation in the ninth inning with runners on first and second base. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that, as bullpen relievers Son Dong-hyun (Hall, 1 inning, 1 unearned run) and Park Young-hyun (Se, 1.1 innings of scoreless relief) shut down the Doosan bats to tie the game and take the lead.
Hwang Jae-gyun said, “We won more games thanks to Son Dong-hyun and Park Young-hyun. If we lose, it’s inevitable. They don’t throw because they don’t want to throw. I just kept telling them to take it easy because they can get hit,” Hwang explained about the bloody eighth and ninth innings.
KT, which was in last place until June 4 after suffering from a severe slump, has been on a roll lately. Not only have they escaped the bottom of the table in just over two months, but they are now in third place, within striking distance of the leaders.
One of the driving forces behind this is a strong starting pitching staff. In particular, KT’s starters have recently thrown seven consecutive quality starts, including Yeo Byul-seong, who started today.
Hwang Jae-gyun, who began his professional career in 2006 when he was drafted by the Hyundai Unicorns with the 24th overall pick in the third round, has been playing for the Heroes, Lotte Giants, and San Francisco Giants (MLB) since the 2018 season. The game against Doosan was his 1900th career KBO game. This ranks 28th on the KBO’s all-time list.메이저놀이터
When Hwang Jae-gyun heard this, he smiled and said, “I don’t know when it happened, I’m that old,” and added, “I’m grateful. First of all, I’m grateful to have played so many matches. I’m also thankful that I didn’t suffer too many injuries, so I feel like I’ve been playing baseball for a long time.”
Despite the heat wave and the away game, many fans gathered at Jamsil Baseball Stadium to cheer KT’s seventh straight win.
Hwang Jae-gyun said, “It seems like you really love baseball when you come to the ballpark even in this weather. It’s amazing,” Hwang said. “The players feel grateful that they always come. We’ll try to repay you by playing hard,” he said.