Kang Baek-ho (KT) finally smiled brightly in the last game of the tournament with the Taegeuk symbol. He achieved the greatest moment of his national team career by winning a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games.
The Korean national baseball team, led by coach Ryu Joong-il, defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games baseball gold medal match held at the Shaoxing Baseball & Softball Sports Center-Baseball in Hangzhou, China on the 7th.안전놀이터
With today’s victory, Korea won its sixth gold medal, following the 1998 Bangkok, 2002 Busan, 2010 Guangzhou, 2014 Incheon, and 2018 Jakarta-Palembang competitions. We achieved the feat of winning the Asian Games for the fourth time in a row and ended the Hangzhou Games on a good note.
Korea laid the foundation for victory with starting pitcher Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha) pitching 6 scoreless innings. The K-bullpen, consisting of Choi Ji-min (KIA), Park Young-hyun (KT), and Ko Woo-seok (LG), silenced Taiwan’s pursuit without conceding any runs.
Go Woo-seok was in danger in the bottom of the 9th inning due to the umpire’s unclear strike decision with one out and runners on first and second base, but he silenced Taiwan’s last resistance with a double play and put an end to the game.
Kang Baek-ho started as the designated hitter number 6 in the gold medal game and recorded 1 hit in 4 at-bats, contributing to the national team’s victory. While everyone was shouting ‘fighting’ at the top of their lungs in the dugout throughout the game, after the gold medal was confirmed, they enjoyed the joy of mingling with their teammates on the ground.
Kang Baek-ho said, “It feels like a dream. I’m really sorry that I haven’t always been able to show good results with the national team,” and added, “I think I was able to achieve a dream-like result today because the players on our national team did better than I did well.”
Kang Baek-ho wore the Taegeuk mark for the first time at the 2019 WBSC Premier 12, the second year of his professional debut. At the time, he was not a starting player due to prominent seniors such as Park Byeong-ho (KT), Kim Jae-hwan (Doosan), and Kim Hyun-soo (LG), but he was used as a pinch hitter to change the flow in the game. He made a strong impression by going 2-for-7 with 3 RBIs.
He also struck hard in the finals of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. He did his part with a batting average of .308, 7 hits in 26 at-bats, and 4 RBIs. Although the baseball team finished in fourth place and failed to win a medal, Kang Baek-ho led Korea’s main batting lineup along with Lee Jeong-hoo (Kiwoom).
At the World Baseball Classic (WBC) last March, Kang Baek-ho swung the bat vigorously. He showed off his peak hitting ability with 7 hits in 14 at-bats, 2 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.286. In the first game of the group stage against Australia, he was criticized for a head play while running the bases, but he was completely reborn as an ‘international batsman’.
However, because the national team’s performance was not good, he bowed his head every time he returned home. In the 2019 Premier 12, they finished second, bowing to Japan in the finals, and at the Tokyo Olympics, they ended up losing to Japan in the semifinals, the United States in the losers’ semifinals, and the Dominican Republic in the bronze medal match, ending up with no medals.
In March of this year, the WBC was defeated by Australia and then completely defeated by Japan. Kang Baek-ho came out as a pinch hitter against Australia and hit a double, but was heavily criticized by fans when he was out during the celebration due to a bone head play in which his foot fell off the base.
He worked hard to prepare for the Hangzhou Asian Games, but failed to do his part in the group stage match against Hong Kong and the second match against Taiwan, going 0-for-4 with no hits. Manager Ryu Joong-il was considerate by adjusting Kang Baek-ho’s batting order from 4th to 6th, but Kang Baek-ho’s batting ability rarely rebounded.
Fortunately, Kang Baek-ho showed his best performance of the tournament with 3 hits and 1 home run in 4 at-bats in the second game of the Super Round against China on the 6th, leading Korea to advance to the gold medal match. He even experienced the joy of hitting his first home run in his national team career.
In the finals, as one of the senior players on the baseball team, he constantly encouraged his juniors. We supported the players so that they could play with confidence against Taiwan, which lost 0-4 in the group stage, and the tournament ended with a happy ending.
Kang Baek-ho said, “I’m so happy that I can’t express it in words. It’s my first win with the national team, and the young players came together and did their best,” and added, “The atmosphere wasn’t good when we lost to Taiwan, but we didn’t give up and gathered our hearts until the end, which gave us strength. It wouldn’t have been easy without captain Kim Hye-seong and top senior Park Se-woong. “The spirit of the young players and the initiative of the seniors were the driving force,” he said. “
Before today’s game against Taiwan, I told the players that I will take all the criticism, so I hope the young players show spirit and a good performance,” he said. I am sincerely grateful to everyone who supported me. This season was really difficult. It was the most difficult time in my life, including when I joined the national team. I looked back and thought, “All of these current situations feel like lies.”