‘The Man Who Never Gives Up’ Oh Ji-hwan Saves LG Again
LG Twins captain Oh Ji-hwan, 33, is likely to remain in the minds of baseball fans as the man who never gives up.
Oh has saved the team from the brink of defeat in back-to-back Korean Series (KS).
Oh hit a dramatic game-winning home run with runners on second and third base in the top of the ninth inning after trailing 5-7 against the visiting KT Wiz in the third game of the 2023 KBO KS at Katie Wiz Park in Suwon on Tuesday.
He took a 145-kilometer fastball up the middle off opposing closer Kim Jae-yoon and blasted a three-run homer over the right field fence.
LG beat KT 8-7 on the strength of Oh’s home run and took a 2-1 lead in the series.
In fact, Oh made a big mistake early in the game that almost cost them the game.
With the score 3-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, he deflected KT’s Jang Jang-woo’s grounder to the shortstop.
A calm catch would have ended the inning.
Oh’s error led to an unearned run. As the ball dropped backward, first baseman Park Byung-ho raced to second and then to third, and LG left fielder Moon Sung-joo made a bad throw to put runners on first and second and third.
The LG mound was shaken up and gave up back-to-back singles to pinch-hitters Kim Min-hyuk and Anthony Alford to cut the deficit to 3-4.
LG’s three runs in the fifth inning were the result of a fielding error by Oh Ji-hwan.
Oh couldn’t keep his head up. In the top of the seventh, he took a passive swing at a floated ball and was out.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, LG gave up three runs, including a two-run homer to Park Byung-ho.
But LG didn’t give up. Neither did Oh Ji-hwan.
With runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, Oh blasted a home run to complete the drama.
With five hits, two doubles, a home run, and three RBIs, Oh was named the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of Game 3 of the KS and received $1 million in prize money.
In fact, he didn’t give up in Game 2 of the KS on the 8th, setting the stage for the game-winning run.
He hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score at 1-4 to start the comeback, and LG won the game 5-4 thanks to Park Dong-won’s game-winning two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth.
“Before KS, I told the players, ‘Let’s not give up until the end,'” said Oh Ji-hwan in the postgame press conference on Tuesday. “Today, the team’s mood dropped after Park Byung-ho’s (eighth-inning) home run, but I think we won because we were eager in the ninth inning,” he said.
As for the circumstances of the home run, he explained, “(KT closer) Kim Jae-yoon threw a changeup with the first pitch, and the ball went out.” “Afterward, (KT catcher) Jang Sung-woo went up to the mound and talked to him,” he said.
“I think Sung-woo probably said, ‘Throw a fastball confidently in your style,’ so I kept it simple and went to bat,” he said, adding, “As if on cue, the second fastball came and I was able to hit a home run.”
“Actually, I had a lot of pressure because I gave up three runs early in the game due to my mistake,” he said, “but I thought I could turn it around because the score was small,” he said confidently.
In fact, it was hard to predict whether Oh would be named the game’s MVP. Park Dong-won hit a dramatic come-from-behind two-run homer in the sixth inning and Park Byung-ho hit a dramatic come-from-behind two-run homer in the eighth inning.
In particular, Park was in the mood to hit a game-winning home run for the second straight game.
If Park Dong-won’s home run had decided the game and LG had won, the series MVP award would have been tilted in his favor.
“It’s become fun (competing for Series MVP),” Oh laughed, “I want to win a Rolex, too, but winning comes first.”
Former LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, who passed away in 2018, bought a Rolex watch for 80 million won in 1998, saying, “If you win, give it to the KS MVP. Oh Ji-hwan and Park Dong-won’s spirited MVP rivalry is also heating up. 토토사이트