Kiwoom Heroes future Lee Ju-hyung bailed out his team from a losing streak with a spectacular home run. He tasted the joy of his first grand slam after joining the team and gained more confidence.
Kiwoom defeated the Lotte Giants 5-4 in the 12th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 18. The win snapped a two-game losing streak and ended Lotte’s five-game winning streak.
Kiwoom got off to a shaky start on the day, giving up a two-run homer to Lotte’s Ahn Chi-hong in the top of the third inning. RBI singles by Kim Hwi-jip in the fourth and Jeon Byung-woo in the fifth tied the game at 2-2, but he gave up an infield sacrifice fly to Lee Jung-geun in the sixth and a solo home run to Jeon Jun-woo in the eighth to fall behind 4-2.
With the game hanging in the balance, the turnaround came in the offense in the bottom of the eighth. After a leadoff single by Song Sung-moon and a walk to Joo Sung-won, Kiwoom had runners on first and second with no outs, but Lee Ju-hyung came through.
Trailing by two runs, Kiwoom coach Hong Won-ki ordered Lee Joo-hyung, who had been hitting well with a single in his first at-bat and a walk in his second, to bat hard.
Lee lived up to his manager’s expectations. He blasted a three-run home run off Lotte’s veteran sidearm Han Hyun-hee to make the score 5-4.
In a one-ball, one-strike at-bat, he took a three-pitch 147-kilometer fastball from Han Hyun-hee with a perfect swing. The ball came in low to his body, and he picked it up and sent it over the right field fence for a 105-meter drive.
“It feels good to have played a big role in the team’s victory in a crucial situation,” Lee said after the game. “I wasn’t aiming for a specific pitch, but I was trying to hit it in front of the hitting point, and luckily the ball came to me on the course I was waiting for.”
Lee hit his third home run and first grand slam since donning the Kiwoom uniform in a trade from the LG Twins on March 29, but he wasn’t all smiles.
He felt bad for Lotte’s Lee Hak-joo, who was injured in the second inning after bumping into him while running the bases. Kiwoom collided hard with Lotte third baseman Lee Hak-joo while running to third base after Kim Xiang’s infield grounder in the bottom of the second inning.
The third base umpire immediately called defensive interference, ending Kiwoom’s second-inning rally, but Lee fell to the ground in pain. Lee was eventually placed on a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital by an ambulance waiting at the stadium.
Luckily, Lee was diagnosed with nothing wrong with his body after an X-ray and CT scan. However, he remains in pain in his neck, waist, and back.
“At the end of the second inning, I bumped into Lee Hak-joo, and I felt bad and couldn’t keep smiling. I thought it was a hit (when Kim Xiang grounded out) and ran to home plate, but I couldn’t avoid Lee Hak-joo, who was handling the ball,” Lee said. “I was very worried about him because he was lying on the ground and didn’t move, so I thought he was seriously injured.”
He also apologized, saying, “I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am really sorry to Lee Hak-joo, and I will play more carefully next time.”
Lee expressed his satisfaction with the improvement in his performance after his transfer to Kiwoom. He said that the biggest difference is that he now plays with a calm mind and doesn’t get caught up in the outcome of each at-bat.안전놀이터
“Actually, when I was in LG, I had a lot of opportunities that I didn’t take advantage of,” Lee said, “but Kiwoom kept me in the lineup until the end of the game, so I don’t attach much meaning to one at-bat. The coaches kept telling me it was okay, so I think I’m getting good results,” he added.