Man-of-the-match against ‘nemesis’ brings back memories of super-catch three years ago

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“Honestly, I wasn’t confident, because I had never hit a (Kim) Daewoo-type ball before.”

He hit a grand slam, but he was dumbfounded. He was facing a pitcher he had struggled against for years, going 11-for-11. He had never been able to get a hit against him, so he was looking for a walk rather than a hit, but his chance came. Kim’s 126 km/h curveball was right down the middle, and Park lined it over the left-field fence for a home run. It was the game-winning home run.

Park Dong-won started as the No. 7 hitter and catcher in the lineup against the Samsung Lions of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Samsung Lions Park in Daegu, South Korea, on Saturday and hit a game-winning home run in the sixth inning with the score tied at 1-2 to lead the team to a 6-3 victory. It was Park’s 18th of the season. After a brief lull in June and July, Park rebounded with three home runs in August.

But before he stepped up to the plate, Park was not confident. After the game, Park Dong-won said, “I was honestly not confident. I had never hit Daewoo’s ball before, and even though I knew Daewoo’s ball well because we played together, it didn’t work well.” “I don’t remember the home run situation very well. I think I was lucky that the ball was so centered,” he recalled.

He also recalled his pain from three years ago. “I remember hitting a Daewoo-type ball well, but it was caught with a ridiculous sliding defense,” Park laughed. The moment Park remembered was on June 11, 2020, when he was playing for the Kiwoom Heroes against Samsung Electronics in Daegu. With runners on first and second base and a chance to score, he hit a well-hit ball that stretched to the walking track, but was blocked by a super catch by right fielder Park Seung-kyu (now managing director). At the time, Park Dong-won’s hysterical laughter was a hot topic.

Three years later, however, his joy was doubled when he finally hit the nemesis’ ball, a grand slam that led his team to victory. “The previous batter gave me a walk, so I waited for a walk (instead of a hit). But when I saw two strikes, I changed my mind. I thought I should be more aggressive and try to get a hit. It paid off,” he laughed.

Park lifted his spirits in August by hitting three home runs again. He said, “I feel like I’m getting better. When I wasn’t hitting home runs (in June and July), I thought 안전놀이터 more about not being able to get over the infield, but now it’s a lot different. I’ve been training and preparing well, and I think it’s paying off. I was able to focus on my personal training because the other players were doing so well,” he said.

“I don’t have any personal goals. I just want to be a championship catcher,” he laughed. “Winning is the first thing,” he said about the Golden Glove for catchers. “I’m not greedy because (Noh) is hitting so well right now. I think it’s right to aim for more career-high home runs.” Park’s most home runs in a season is 22, which he hit in 2021. He is five away from his career-high.

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