After a frustrating run of form throughout the tournament, Moon Bo-kyung (LG) made up for it with her performance in the final.
The Korean baseball team, led by Ryu Jung-il, won their fourth consecutive title with a 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the baseball final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games on Sunday. It was not an easy road from preparation to the group stage, super round and final, but the young team managed to overcome the challenges.
While many players shined, Moon Bo-kyung, who played both corners of the infield alongside Noh Si-hwan (Hanwha), also made a significant contribution to the team.
Up until the group stage, Moon hadn’t made much of an impact. In three games, she went 2-for-10 with a .200 batting average and four RBIs. Compared to Choi Ji-hoon (SSG) and Yoon Dong-hee (Lotte), who were both hitting at over 5 percent, Moon’s numbers were lackluster.
After going 0-for-4 in the first game of the Super Round against Japan, Moon went 1-for-5 with two RBIs against China in the second game of the Super Round. Although she only had one hit, it was encouraging that it came in her last at-bat. In the top of the eighth inning, with her team up 6-0, Moon hit a double to right-center field with runners on second and third to load the bases and set the stage for the final.
The expectations were realized. The next day in the final, Moon led off the second inning with a double to right field off a fastball from Taiwanese starter Lin Yumin. He then raced home on a sacrifice fly from Kim Joo-won (NC) to give his team the lead, and it proved to be the game-winner.
The moment the team clinched the gold medal, everyone celebrated on the field, with some players even shedding a few tears. Even Moon Bo-kyung, who was overwhelmed by the pressure, was emotional.
“I wasn’t crying (after the final), but I was sobbing,” said Moon, who returned home via Incheon International Airport Terminal 1 on the afternoon of the 8th. I almost cried,” she said, adding, “It wasn’t just one person, it was all of us who worked hard and produced a good result. I think (winning the gold medal) is in the top five moments since I started playing baseball. I was more nervous than I thought I was going to be, and there were times when I felt like I was weighing down my chest. I think I was more motivated to do well than the rest of the league.”
Her most memorable moment was getting the last out in the final against Chinese Taipei. In the top of the ninth inning, with runners on first and second and a 2-0 lead, Go Woo-seok (LG) induced a grounder to second base, Kim Hye-sung caught the ball, tagged the runner at first base, and fired the ball to Moon Bo-kyung at first base to complete the game-winning run, securing Korea’s fourth consecutive victory in the tournament.
“I couldn’t see the ball for a moment because it was overlapping the scoreboard, but I thought I had to catch it somehow,” Moon said. Since there was no video replay, I thought I shouldn’t run first, so I ran all the way around the first base, and when I saw the out gesture (from the first baseman) and ran out, I think I thought, ‘I really won, I really won,’” Moon recalled.
Moon, who had boasted of his batting prowess before being called up to the national team, went silent through the group stage and into the first game of the Super Round. “I thought it was a bit bad, but (Kim) Hye-sung and the other guys on the team said that the other pitches were caught because they were unlucky, not because they were in bad shape. So when I thought about it, I felt like I wasn’t just missing shots, and I think after hearing that, I thought, ‘I don’t have to be discouraged,’ and I tried to play more confidently.”
Her first at-bat in the final was a two-run double. Moon would be lying if she said she didn’t feel the pressure of facing Lin Yumin again, whom she had met just five days earlier, but she remembered the advice of her senior teammate and captain, Oh Ji-hwan (LG), as she stepped up to the plate.
“I think the pitch was similar to the second game (in the group stage), but it was raining a lot, so I think the control of the Taiwanese starter (Lin Yumin) was a bit difficult. The ball itself was good,” he said, “and when (Oh) Ji-hwan called his brother, he said, ‘You have to be more aggressive at times like that, and when you’re in a tough game with a high ball count, it’s harder because the ball is so good, so you have to be more aggressive and confident from the first pitch.’”
“With that in mind, I went in with the mindset that I had to hit the first pitch, and I think I got lucky with the timing and that’s how it turned out. I was just going for the fastball and it just happened to be there. I don’t even know how I hit it, I was so nervous, and then I just saw the base and ran hard,” he added.
Moon, who moved to third on Lin Yumin’s wild pitch after the double, was able to tag up when Kim Joo-won sent a pitch away from first base. “I had time, but I was a lot slower than I thought. It was raining a lot that day, so my legs didn’t work. I think I was thinking, ‘Why can’t I get out like this? ‘ I think I’m just a slow runner,” Moon laughed.
Moon Bo-kyung, who played third base for her club team, played first base for the national team. “I didn’t feel any pressure at all. I think I just focused on the game and tried to do well,” he said. “I didn’t see any difference in hitting the ball like a third baseman. It was just a different angle. The national team infielders have really good shoulders, so the ball comes really hard, so it was a little difficult at first, but I got used to it as I kept receiving the ball in training,” she smiled.
Moon also recalled a time in the first game of the Super Round against Japan when she was unable to catch a throw from shortstop Kim Joo-won in the top of the ninth inning. The official score was a throwing error by the shortstop, but Moon felt that she was largely to blame: “I could have caught it, but it went in and out of my glove. I should have caught it no matter what, but I was really sorry that I didn’t catch it and put (the team) in a difficult situation.”
Now, Moon is looking to help his team challenge for the overall title. While he was in Hangzhou, LG clinched the regular season title on March 3. The next day, the players performed a ceremony against Busan, and on the sixth, they celebrated with the fans at their home stadium, Jamsil Baseball Stadium, again with a championship ceremony.토토사이트
Moon Bo-kyung said, “To be honest, I think I didn’t pay attention to the team because I was focused on the Asian Games. I’ll be back on the 9th, and it will be nice to feel it again. I think it’s good that both my team and the national team have won now,” she said, pledging her future success.