South Korea’s national baseball team, seeking a fourth consecutive Asian title, is raising the anchor.
The team, led by coach Ryu Jung-il, 60, completed its final training session for the Hangzhou Asian Games at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on Sunday. The day before, the team played a scrimmage against Sangsung to get a feel for the game before departing for Hangzhou on the 28th.
South Korea has performed well at the Asian Games in the past. It won gold in Bangkok in 1998, the first time professional baseball players were allowed to compete, and it repeated the feat in Busan in 2002. At the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, they had to settle for a bronze medal after being upset by Japan, who were led by social baseball players, but they won three consecutive gold medals from Guangzhou in 2010 to Jakarta-Palembang in 2018.
However, the recent buzz surrounding the national team has not been so positive. After winning the 2018 Asian Games, the team’s head coach, Sun Dong-yeol (60), was summoned to a parliamentary hearing over player selection issues. The team also disappointed baseball fans by performing below expectations at the World Baseball Classic and the Olympics.
Feeling the pinch, the KBO emphasized reform ahead of the Asian Games. The Young National Team was one of the initiatives. With the goal of building the future of Korean baseball, the team is composed of players who are 25 years old or younger or in their fourth year of play. Even the three wild cards were limited to players aged 29 or younger, making it the youngest national team ever.
The most anticipated players in Ryu’s squad are the “fastball duo” Moon Dong-ju (20-Hanwha Eagles) and Jang Hyun-seok (19-Masan Yongmago). They have been throwing fastballs in the mid-150 kilometers per hour since their high school days and will be wearing the Korean flag for the first time ahead of the Hangzhou Asian Games.
Both right-handed pitchers are in the best shape they’ve been in all year. Moon continued to be rested for administrative reasons after his last start against the LG Twins in Jamsil on March 3. 바카라사이트 He appeared in two second-team games to get his feel for the game.
The same goes for high school ace Jang Hyun-seok. After signing a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly after the presidential election in August, he peaked his form with only the Asian Games in mind. In a scrimmage against Sangmu on the 26th, the two side-by-side threw fastballs up to 154 kilometers per hour, earning passing grades from the coaching staff.
Moon Dong-ju said, “My body is in great shape. I’ve been resting and saving my strength. Pitchers have an advantage in international competitions, so I will throw with confidence.” Jang Hyun-seok also said, “My pitches are better after a good rest. I will continue to work on my pitches and hopefully win a gold medal.”
Baseball at the Hangzhou Asian Games will feature nine nations, including South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, China and Hong Kong. The first and second place finishers in Group A and Group B will advance to the Super Round, where the top two finishers will compete for the gold medal.
South Korea will open Group B play on October 1 against Hong Kong. They will then face Chinese Taipei on Oct. 2, before playing the final game of the first round on Oct. 3 against the winner of Thailand, Laos, or Singapore. If they make it past the first gate, they will play the Super Round on the 5th and 6th. The much-anticipated final will be held on the 7th.
Coach Ryu Joong-il named Moon Dong-ju and Jang Hyun-seok as his early starters. Moon is likely to start against Taiwan and Jang against Hong Kong. Their first-round fate is in their hands. Moon Dong-joo said, “I will give my all no matter what opponent I face. I will also help (Jang) Hyun-seok, who is a high school student, to win the gold medal.”