The backbone of the South Korean national baseball team. Relief pitcher Choi Ji-min (20-KIA) was the key.
Led by Ryu Jung-il, South Korea earned a thrilling 2-0 victory over Chinese Taipei in the baseball final of the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games at the Shaoxing Baseball Sports and Cultural Center in Hangzhou, China, on Sunday. They won the coveted gold medal.
South Korean baseball won gold in Bangkok 1998 and Busan 2002 before settling for bronze in Doha 2006. The team then won three consecutive gold medals in Guangzhou 2010, Incheon 2014, and Jakarta-Palembang 2018. This year, they aimed for a fourth straight title, and they got it.
Choi was the only left-hander in the squad, along with Kim Young-gyu (NC). It was her first Taeguk mark. He played a key role in the middle innings.
Against Chinese Taipei, he pitched the seventh inning with a 2-0 lead. Starter Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha) pitched six scoreless innings to earn the win and handed the mound to Choi Ji-min. Choi pitched one inning of scoreless relief, striking out two. She needed just 10 pitches to cook the Taiwanese batters.
She got leadoff hitter Lin Anker to fly out to center field. He induced a swinging strikeout of Wu Yenting. Against Lin Zhihao, he struck out looking. He headed to the dugout with a nice ceremony.
“It’s my first international tournament and I’m honored to win a gold medal. I’m really happy,” Choi said.
The entire team was determined to get revenge against Chinese Taipei. After losing 0-4 in the second game of Group B, the team advanced to the Super Round by finishing second in the group (2-1). “After the loss, the team’s mood dropped a lot,” says Choi Jimin, “and we all said that we wanted to meet them one more time in the final and get revenge unconditionally. I think it was an achievement that we accomplished as a team.”
When she took the mound in the bottom of the seventh inning, Choi Ji-min said, “(Moon) Dong-ju pitched so well. I had a lot of adrenaline because the whole team was working together as one,” she reflected.
When it came to striking out Lin Zhihao and performing the ceremony, Choi said, “There was a sense of relief that it was a good block. It just came out of me,” he laughed.
“I can’t tell you how happy I am (when I get a strikeout). All the players were doing a great job as a unit, so I was more concerned about doing well than being nervous.”
It was a great way to end her first international tournament. “It was my first time playing for the national team, but I was proud. I wanted to do well because I was representing Korea,” she said, “and I think that’s why I got a better result.” 스포츠토토
Choi and fellow 2003-born pitchers Moon Dong-joo and Park Young-hyun (KT) stood out. “My teammates were all doing well and we praised each other. It was more meaningful and good to play together,” said Choi Ji-min. “We could rely on each other a lot. We talked often, so we had a good synergy,” she smiled.
They are regarded as a resource that will be responsible for the national midfield for the next 10 years. “If you continue to select me, I will do my best to do well,” said Choi Jimin.