Despite falling one double short of the record, he was one of the biggest contributors to the team’s victory. SSG Landers’ Choi Ji-hoon was all over the place on both sides of the ball.
Choi started at first base and center field in Game 6 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Samsung Lions at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 1 and went 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs. It was his first game with three or more hits since April 26 against the LG Twins in Jamsil (four hits).
It started off well. In the bottom of the first inning, he took a three-pitch forkball from Samsung starter Yang Chang-seop and lined it up the middle. It wasn’t a live pitch, but it was a technical hit and the ball dropped for a hit. In the second inning, he scored on Guillermo Heredia’s two-run double to take the lead.
In the bottom of the second, he took matters into his own hands. With runners on first and second, he pulled a five-pitch fastball from Chang-Seop Yang for a three-run shot over the right field wall. Masu-geul’s home run, which came 36 games after the season opener, increased the gap between the two teams to five runs. In fact, it was all SSG needed to take control of the game.
Choi completed the team’s double-digit scoring in the third inning with a two-out, two-run triple that gave the team a 9-0 lead. Although he was unable to complete the cycling hit as he struck out in his final two at-bats, it was a satisfying result.
SSG head coach Kim Won-hyung also praised the team, saying, “Ji-hoon Choi in particular did a great job on offense, but he also made some great plays on defense, taking the pressure off the pitchers’ shoulders.”
After the game, Choi Ji-hoon said, “Eredia’s home run in the first inning set the tone for the game, so I was able to enter the second at-bat with ease. Thanks to Eredia’s performance,” he said, giving credit to his teammate. “I’ve had a lot of disappointing moments in recent games, so today I went to the plate with a clear mind. I think I was able to concentrate better and play better when I had a clear mind, and I got a lucky hit in my first at-bat, so I think I was able to get into a good rhythm from the start,” he explained.
As for missing the cycling hit, he said, “I remember it from last year, and it’s actually a shame. Today, I had two at-bats left, and I thought I had a good chance of getting a hard triple or a home run first, so I went up to bat and didn’t get it. The cycling hit was disappointing, but I’m more disappointed that I didn’t get a hit in my last at-bat. It’s important to finish well at the end to keep the momentum going into the next game 메이저사이트.”
While it didn’t affect the outcome of the game since the gap was so wide, Choi’s presence in the field also shined.
Choi took the pressure off the pitchers by handling tricky balls in the middle of the game. In the top of the sixth inning, he even made a sliding catch to rob an opponent of a hit. “I think I have more strengths in defense,” Choi said. I think it’s my role to make the pitchers trust and throw. I’m focusing more on defense,” Choi said of his driving force.
After struggling in the month of May with a .217 batting average with 13 hits and three RBIs in 60 at-bats in 13 games, Choi turned things around with a strong showing in the first game of June. “I think it’s still a good time to watch baseball before the summer starts,” he said, adding, “I hope the fans will come to the ballpark for the three-game series this weekend, and the team will reward them with good play on the field.