It was the punch he’d been waiting for.
Samsung Lions slugger Oh Jae-il, 37, broke his long silence to lead the team to victory. Oh Jae-il showed his fixer-upper instincts with a two-run double in the top of the eighth inning to lead the Samsung Lions to a 6-1 victory over Doosan in the fourth game of the season at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul on Thursday.안전놀이터
The 5 billion won ‘Hye-ja’ free agent, who was recently pushed down to the seventh spot in the batting order due to a severe hitting slump, was silent in her first three at-bats, including two strikeouts.
She wasn’t in bad shape. Her swing was strong. Commentator Jung Min-cheol also said, “Her swing was the best in recent games.” “In my first three at-bats, there were no balls on the course that I could hit. I thought there was nothing I could do about it and tried to take advantage of my swing.”
The score remained 0-0 until the seventh inning.
In the top of the eighth, Samsung took advantage of Doosan reliever Jung Seung-jo for the big inning.
Back-to-back singles and a fielder’s choice put runners on the corners with no outs, and a wild pitch and a passed ball made it 2-0.
With the bases loaded, Oh Jae-il, the No. 7 hitter, came to the plate for the fourth time. Given that Doosan still had two more at-bats to go, they were in desperate need of a run.
Lee Hyung-beom took the mound.
He pulled a 126-kilometer changeup on a 2B2S and hit a double down the right-field line. He technically slowed his swing on the fastball and dropped it inside the right-field line. It was a two-run double that sealed the win. Kim Tae-gun’s RBI double brought home the team’s sixth run.
“I wasn’t looking for a specific pitch, I just thought if it was in the zone, I’d hit it, but the changeup came up high and it caught my bat.”
It’s been a tough season, but he’s still been able to come through in the clutch.
“When I’m in a bad situation and there’s runners on base, I try not to think about my swing as much as I can, but just try to make some contact and get the runners in, and one by one, I think I’m coming up with good at-bats.”
An unexpectedly long slump. Captain Oh and the team were both worried.
He was batting 1-for-9 in the month of April, which is usually a bad month for him. They didn’t think much of it. They were confident that he would bounce back in May.
But there was a long, embarrassing silence. Until this day, he was 5-for-43 (.116) in May. His season batting average had dropped to 1.167.
Sleepless nights had begun. Tough times. The fans’ encouraging applause is what keeps him going.
“It’s hard, I don’t think anybody sleeps well at times like this. I’m not trying to de-stress, I’m just trying to go to bed early, but I can’t sleep…. I just want to go to bed early to feel good, like I had a good at-bat today, so hopefully tomorrow will be good too. I think coming out to the ballpark early on purpose and seeing the fans makes me feel a little bit better than being alone in the dugout. I’m not a machine, so I can’t say I’m going to come up (when it gets hot), but I’m just trying to practice as hard as I can.”
Words that carry the weight of hard work. The weight of the captain’s armband adds to the burden.
“When I was younger, I would have struggled alone, but I’m the captain and I can’t do it, so I feel sorry for my teammates. I can’t help it that I’m struggling alone…”
Lee Won-seok, a close friend with whom he shared his troubles, also left. He too has been having a hard time since May. A friend I didn’t realize was always there. He is realizing the importance of it.
“Won-seok calls me almost every day, and he’s very lonely.”
Baseball can cause sleepless nights for even the biggest stars. Won-seok’s worries are ongoing until the moment he takes off his uniform. Baseball is hard.