It’s been an exhausting season, but we’ve also gained a lot. Won Tae-in made his final start of the year a success.
South Korea’s baseball team, led by Ryu Jung-il, defeated Chinese Taipei 6-1 in the third game of the Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC) 2023 qualifiers at the Tokyo Dome in Japan on Monday to clinch a spot in the finals with a 2-1 record.굿모닝토토
With the win, Korea will have plenty of time to rest before facing Japan in the final at 6 p.m. on Nov. 19 at the same venue. Chinese Taipei, who lost to Korea, will play Australia for third place at 11 a.m. on the 19th.
While the offense scored four runs in the bottom of the second inning to take control of the game, Won Tae-in, the starting pitcher, did his job with five innings of three-hit ball (one home run), striking out five and walking one. He threw 84 pitches. Won tossed the first three scoreless innings of the game before giving up a solo shot to Ryu Ji-hong in the top of the fourth, but remained on the mound until the top of the fifth. The outfielders, including left fielder Park Seung-kyu, also played solid defense to ease Won’s burden.
South Korea, which held a week-long call-up training camp in Daegu from June 6, identified its starting pitchers early, and Won Tae-in, who has experience starting for the national team, was one of them. Won successfully completed a practice check on Nov. 11, when he started the second game of a practice match against Chinese Taipei. After traveling to the Tokyo Dome, he trained to adjust his condition.
Before the game, coach Ryu Jung-il said, “Our opponent is a left-handed pitcher, so we have a lot of right-handed batters. Kim Hui-jip, who hit a home run the day before, will bat fifth.” “The key is how many runs Won Tae-in won’t give up. Just like in the previous game, we need a long start. He pitched once in the Tokyo Dome. He’ll do a good job,” and wished Won a good start. The manager envisioned a scenario where Won Tae-in would pitch four or five innings and then Pil Seung-jo would take the mound with the lead.
Won fulfilled the coaching staff’s wish and gave the team a crucial win. As planned, Kim Young-gyu, Choi Seung-yong, Choi Ji-min, and Jung Hae-young also took the mound, and the team was able to finish the game without any upsets. “I thought about the sixth inning, but I didn’t push them too hard,” said Ryu. Won Tae-in pitched well until the fifth inning,” he said, expressing his satisfaction. It will be a great help for the team’s preparation for the game against Japan on the 19th.
After the game, Won said, “I tried to keep the inning going as long as possible, and I thought I would pitch aggressively with no walks. Even though I got hit by a home run, it was good to finish the game with a no-hitter,” he said after the win.
He didn’t strike out too many batters. “I was following the lead of my catcher, Kim Hyung-joon, a lot (from the beginning of the game), and I tried not to throw a bad pitch. I saw the borderline of the strike zone and utilized my changeup, which is my main weapon, and I think that’s why I was able to get the strikeouts.” “The previous two starters (Moon Dong-joo and Lee Yi-ri) did a good job, so I knew I could trust the bullpen if I pitched five innings today. They pitched as well as I expected. Our pitching staff is strong.”
Won has now played three international tournaments, starting with the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, followed by the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games last month and the APBC this month. It’s been a physically demanding time for Won, but he says he’s learned a lot.
“The WBC was the biggest and most important tournament for me, and I used that experience to gain good experience for the Asian Games. I think I pitched well today, and I hope I can use this as an opportunity to do well in the future,” he said.
Won Tae-in, who concluded his 2023 season with an international tournament, said, “It was a long, long season, and it was tough. I knew that the game against Taiwan on the 18th was the last game of the season, and I thought it was an important game for the team to go to the final. I wanted to finish the Yuzhong well, and I pitched with that in mind. I think this season was the happiest season for me,” he smiled.