Kang Baek-ho signals escape from slump “I’m sorry for the young players…I’ll be a good addition to the team in the future”
“I feel like I put a lot of pressure on the younger players and I apologize. I will use (this game) as an opportunity to contribute to the team in the next game, the next game, and the important games.”
Kang Baek-ho (KT Wiz), who recorded his first hit and RBI in Hangzhou, vowed to continue his good play in the remaining games.
Kang batted sixth in the lineup against Thailand in the third game of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games Baseball Group B on Wednesday at the Shaoxing Baseball and Softball Sports Center near Hangzhou, China.
Drafted by KT in the second round of the 2018 draft, Kang Baek-ho has developed into one of the most dominant sluggers in Korean baseball, batting .317 (2218-for-702) with 87 home runs, 369 RBIs and 29 doubles in 588 games through last year.
However, he has always been at the center of controversy when it comes to international competition. At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, he performed well individually (batting .308), but was criticized for chewing gum with a distraught look on his face during the bronze medal game against the Dominican Republic.
The nightmare continued at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC). In the bottom of the seventh inning against Australia, with South Korea trailing 4-5 and the bases loaded, Kang hit a double to the left-center field fence and then made a boneheaded play that took his foot off the base and tagged out the opposing second baseman. He was heavily criticized as South Korea lost 7-8 and were eventually eliminated in the first round.
In Hangzhou, Kang wasn’t smiling either. He batted fourth in both the Hong Kong and Chinese Taipei games, but went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and 0-for-4 with one strikeout, respectively. He eventually dropped to the sixth spot in the batting order.
Against Thailand, he had a rough start. In the first and third innings, he gave up a single and a fly to center field, respectively.
But he didn’t miss his last chance. In the fourth inning, with South Korea leading 10-0, he hit a two-run double to right field with runners on second and third. It was Kang’s first hit and RBI of the tournament.
With Kang Baek-ho’s first hit and RBI at such a crucial moment, Korea’s bats exploded and the team was able to secure a 17-0 fifth inning victory over Thailand.
When asked after the game, Kang Baek-ho first said, “I feel so sorry for my players. I think I put a lot of pressure on the younger players while batting at No. 4,” he said, “I think they were worried about me. They gave me a lot of feedback, and I was lucky to get a hit and an RBI in my last at-bat. I will use (the Thailand game) as an opportunity to contribute to the team in the next game, the next game, and the next important game,” he said.
Baekho Kang was able to get a hit and an RBI on the day thanks to the support of his teammates and the fans who traveled from all over the country to cheer him on.
“It felt great to have so much support from my teammates (when I got the hit),” said Kang. “It was also great to have so many fans who came to support us. We have a lot of important games left to play, so we’ll do our best to make a good showing,” he said.
The squad was also designed to be generational, with a focus on younger players. South Korea has set its own age limit, with no players under the age of 25 or in their fourth year of eligibility. Only three wildcards under the age of 30 were selected. This is where Kang Baek-ho, who has extensive international experience, comes into play.
“International competitions are always the same,” he says. The responsibility is different because I’m playing with the Taeguk mark. This time, I was not the youngest player, but the main player, so I had more weight,” he said, emphasizing that “we will try to show a good game with the young players’ passion.”
After a 10-0 eighth-inning blowout win over Hong Kong in the first game, Korea lost 0-4 to Chinese Taipei the previous day (Feb. 2). Kang Baek-ho looked somber in the dugout at the time. Fortunately, the victory secured Korea’s second-place finish and a spot in the Super Round.
“We tried to do our best,” said Kang Baek-ho about the game against Chinese Taipei. All the players did their best in every game and every moment, but we were disappointed with the result,” he said. “I think we were frustrated because we struggled early on. I think we need to show more in the remaining matches 스포츠토토.”
However, it’s still hard to say if South Korea will make the final. They enter the Super Round with one loss. Korea needs to win both games and see how the other teams fare.
“Whether it’s Taiwan, Japan, or China, we have to go to the final,” said Kang Baek-ho. We will do our best no matter which country comes,” he said, adding, “If we play again (against Chinese Taipei in the final), I don’t want the same result, but we will do our best so that we can smile and show the fans who came from far away a good game.”