- 1.04 ERA in the second half of the year
- Helped his team win with 17 holds this year
- “I don’t want to be called a no-hitter.”
- Released from Hyundai to Lotte as a free agent
- Achieved 1000 hits after a long battle
- “I endured a long professional life like a weed”
With the Lotte Giants’ chances of making it to the fall baseball season slim this year, they are hoping for a miracle with the help of their two ‘older brothers’. The main characters are infielder Jung Hoon (36) and pitcher Kim Sang-soo (35). As they struggle, younger players are waking up.
Lotte won 10-3 at Samsung Electronics in Ulsan on May 5. Riding a two-game winning streak following their first Monday game of the season (a 4-3 win over Doosan), Lotte improved to 53-59 (.473 winning percentage). With a six-game lead over fifth-place KIA, which did not play that day, Lotte barely kept the dying embers of fall baseball alive.
Aaron Wilkerson, the “win fairy,” pitched six innings of three-run ball, and the offense pounded out 13 hits, including a three-run blast by Yoo Kang-nam.
One player who stole the show was Jeong Hoon. Starting at second base and batting first, he went 5-for-5 with three doubles, three RBIs, and two runs scored. His bat came alive in the first inning. With the bases loaded, he lined a three-pitch fastball from Choi Chae-heung up the middle to score Yoon Dong-hee from first base. Jung-hoon then advanced to third on a grounder by Jeon Jun-woo and scored on a sacrifice fly by Goodrum.
Jung-hoon added an RBI single in the fifth to complete his early multi-hit game. With runners on first and second in the fifth inning, Jung-hoon singled up the middle to bring home Noh Jin-hyuk from second. More importantly, the hit gave Jung-hoon his 1,000th career hit. There are 115 players who have reached this milestone before him, so it’s not a “waiting list,” but it’s special to Jung-hoon.
Jeong-hoon is a prime example of a “human triumph,” as he made his professional debut as a rookie in 2006 and went through a lot of ups and downs. He joined the now-defunct Hyundai Unicorns, but never made it to the first team before being released and sent to active duty. After his discharge, he worked as a high school baseball coach to earn some extra money, then took a tryout and joined Lotte in 2010. He batted just .156 in 29 games in his first year. Undeterred, Jung-hoon played 135 games in 2015 and hit a “career-high” 0.300. In 2021, he hit his first 10,000-run home run 15 years after his debut, and the following year, he signed a three-year, 1.8 billion won free agent contract with Lotte. “I’ve been growing like a weed,” Jung-hoon said after reaching 1,000 hits.
Kim Sang-soo, who has become a must-win pitcher this season, also added a hold on the day. In the top of the seventh inning with runners on first and second and a 7-3 lead, Kim came on after Kim Jin-wook and got Pirela, the No. 4 hitter, to fly out to end the inning. In the eighth inning, Sang-Soo Kim took the mound and got leadoff hitter Oh Jae-il to ground into a double play before handing the ball off to Jin Seung-hyun. With this, Kim kept his ERA at “0” for 13 consecutive games.스포츠토토
Since being released from SSG, Kim Sang-soo has been playing the role of a ‘pot belly’ in the Lotte uniform. In 61 games and 47 innings pitched, he has already collected 17 holds. In the second half of the season, he has continued his salty pitching with a 1.04 ERA. After the game, Kim said, “I’m still young. I don’t want to hear that my velocity has dropped because I’m getting older or that I’m an old ballplayer,” he said with confidence.