‘Three in a row’ Hong Gun-hee’s Musamaloo crisis, Park Chi-kook’s ‘Nansae hero’

For the third straight day, Doosan Bears closer Hong Gun-hee faltered on the mound. With a 2-0 lead, she gave up three straight hits and faced the bases loaded. A clutch situation. Doosan sent Park Chi-guk (25) to the mound, and he became the protector of the team’s victory.

Doosan won its 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League home game against the Hanwha Eagles 2-1 on Monday at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, behind an eight-inning no-hitter by Raul Alcantara and Hong Seong-ho’s first career hit.

But the highlight of the game came in the ninth inning. Just when everyone thought Doosan would win, closer Hong Gun-hee faltered and Park Chi-guk came to the rescue.

Park has been an all-around performer this season, boasting the most appearances on the team. On this day, it looked like she was going to get the night off, as Alcantara took her to the brink of a save situation and handed her the baton.

2-0 lead. Doosan turned to Hong Gun-hee. With set-up man Chung Chul-won down in the secondary, he had pitched the last two games in the ninth inning to get the save in clutch situations, and while he was tired, there was no other option.

Of course, he didn’t expect his fears to be realized. Hong Gun-hee was hit by pinch-hitter Kim Tae-yeon, followed by Moon Hyun-bin and Jung Eun-won. It was almost like they were lucky that they were all just singles.

With a two-run lead and the bases loaded in the ninth inning, what card can you pull out when your closer falters? Manager Lee Seung-yeop had faith in Park Chi-kook. At the top of the order is Noh Si-hwan, who is batting .459 in his last 10 games. He even went 2-for-2 against Park this season.

It was more of a gamble, but it paid off. Park’s 123-kilometer-per-hour slider was hard to hit, and Noh couldn’t get a good look at it, and the ball went to the shortstop. The ball bounced around second base and reached first base ahead of the runner. Two outs and a run scored on the play. It was a best-case scenario for Doosan.

Second and third. Up to bat was Hanwha’s hard-hitting Chae Eun-sung, who also had good memories of Park Chi-guk, going 1-for-2 against him this season.

Park Chi-guk boldly took a pitch. On a 1-1 pitch, a 144-kilometer-per-hour fastball spun around Chae’s bat, but she couldn’t get it out of the infield. It was Park’s second save of the season (2-6). He was perfect when his team needed him the most.

After the game, coach Lee Seung-yeop said, “Ace Alcantara’s perfect pitch led to the victory,” and praised Park’s guts for saving the game in the ninth inning with one run.

“I would like to apologize to Hong Gun-hee, who silently took the mound in the ninth inning for the third consecutive day, and thank her for showing responsibility as a pitching coach even though she had a high pitch count for the second day in a row.” It was hard to think of a card other than Hong Gun-hee, so coach Lee Seung-yup can’t help but be proud of Park Chi-guk for saving the team with his unexpected performance.안전놀이터