The responsible sophomore showed off his clutch hitting instincts to lead Daegu High School to its fourth consecutive national championship.
Daegu defeated Segwang-go 3-2 in the final of the 51st Bonghwangdae National High School Baseball Tournament at Mokdong Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Monday.
It was a dramatic game. After giving up two runs in the top of the seventh inning and falling behind 0-2, Daegu had one last chance in the bottom of the ninth. A walk and a hit by pitch and a balk by Lee Yoon-jae of SeAd put runners on first and second with one out, but No. 4 hitter Park Woo-yeol struck out swinging to end the game.
However, Daegu High sophomore Yang Hyun-jong (17) stepped up to the plate and lined a Yoon’s first pitch into the right-center field gap, tying the game at 2-2. With momentum on their side, Daegu won the game in extra innings with the bases loaded and nobody out, and then scored the game-winning run on a squeeze bunt by Lee Chan with the bases loaded to secure their fourth Pyonghwang Daejeon title and eighth national championship overall.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with runners on first and second and three outs, Daegu head coach Son Kyung-ho had faith in his team, even in the most desperate moments when the No. 4 batter struck out swinging. Son, who was hired in the winter of 2016, is considered one of the best high school baseball coaches in the country, having led Daegu to four national championships and two runner-up finishes.
After the game, Son said, “(Park) Woo-yeol is a one-hit wonder, so I didn’t think it was easy to hit him with precision. If he hit it, it was good, if he didn’t, it was good. Even if he doesn’t hit, there’s Yang Hyun-jong behind him, so I thought, let’s look forward to it.” “Yang Hyun-jong has been saving the team in crucial situations this year. Even if the other team caught Park Woo-yeol, Yang Hyun-jong was able to solve the situation, so I had faith in him.”
In fact, in the tournament alone, Yang swept the batting order with a .500 batting average (10-for-20), 17 RBIs, a .607 slugging percentage, a .900 OPS and a 1.507 OPS in seven games, earning him MVP and Most Valuable Player honors. It was no surprise that Park Woo-yeol, who batted first, won the top RBI award with 14.
“When I look at Yang Hyun-jong, I think of Heo Kyung-min (Doosan Bears), who is in the KBO right now. In difficult situations, you might feel rushed, but he’s calm and composed. He is a player who is faithful to the basics, so I think he will grow into a player like Heo Kyung-min in the future.” He continued his praise.
The sophomore, who also impressed the coach, talked about responsibility as the key to the game-winning hit. The pressure of the bottom of the ninth was outweighed by the regret of his earlier mistake and his desire to “finish the job.
Yang Hyun-jong said, “I felt bad that I couldn’t catch the ball earlier. I thought I had one last chance, but the situation was created and I entered the batter’s box with the mindset of ‘I’ll finish it in five seconds after seeing the first pitch.’ Luckily, the fastball came and I was able to hit it right,” he smiled. “When there are runners in front of me, I feel more responsible to solve it. Thanks to my brother (Park) Woo-yeol in front of me, opposing pitchers compete with me a lot, and I think I gained a good experience through this tournament.”토토사이트
He has the same name as Yang Hyun-jong (35-KIA Tigers), one of the top pitchers in the KBO, which caught the attention of baseball officials. Following in the footsteps of his baseball-loving grandfather and taekwondo-playing father, he became a fan of his hometown team, the Samsung Lions, and started playing baseball in the fourth grade. His favorite player was Samsung’s young shortstop Lee Jae-hyun, 20, and he dreamed of becoming a top infielder like Kim Ha-sung, 28, of the San Diego Padres.
Yang said, “My strengths are contact and throwing ability. I like the Samsung Lions and Lee Jae-hyun, and it’s cool to see him take responsibility and do well even at a young age.” “My role model is Kim Ha-sung. He’s doing well in the U.S. and I think he’s the best shortstop in Korea, so I look up to him as a role model.”