Choi Won-tae (26, LG Twins), the main character of the “Choi Won-tae” Derby, came down the mound after meeting the winning pitcher requirements in a showdown with his former team Kiwoom Heroes.
Choi Won-tae started 메이저놀이터 against Kiwoom in the ‘2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League’ held at Jamsil Stadium on the 12th. On this day, Choi Won-tae faced his former team for the first time since his transfer.
LG and Kiwoom conducted a trade on the 29th of last month. LG has given up the right to nominate infielder Lee Ju-hyung, pitcher Kim Dong-kyu, and the first round of the 2024 KBO League rookie draft, and has been receiving Choi Won-tae.
Choi Won-tae played two games in LG uniform. It was against the Doosan Bears (30th of last month) and the Samsung Lions (5th). On this day, he faced his former team for the first time and faced Kiwoom for the first time since his debut.
On this day, Choi Won-tae greeted his former teammates consisting of Kim Joon-wan (left fielder), Kim Hye-sung (second baseman), Ronnie Dawson (nominated hitter), Song Sung-moon (first baseman), Kim Hwi-jip (shortstop), Lee Joo-hyung (center fielder), Lim Byung-wook (right fielder), Kim Tae-jin (3rd baseman), and Kim Dong-heon (fourth baseman).
Was he nervous in the first inning. Choi Won-tae said, “Something didn’t seem to work out. After one out in the top of the first inning, Kim Hye-sung was sent off due to a shortstop catch error. Dawson then hit a double running down the left line.
There was also help from a teammate. When Dawson hit a double, he caught Kim Hye-sung at third base and made an out count. He seemed to take a breather, but the crisis continued, and Song Sung-moon hit an RBI timely hit with two outs and second base, giving up the first run 0-1.
From the top of the second inning, he seemed to have found stability. He threw sliders and changeups against Kiwoom’s left-handed batters and tied them tightly. He led the swing strikeout by throwing a slider to Lee Joo-hyung and a changeup to Lim Byung-wook. Kim Tae-jin made his first three-way retirement by handling left fielder foul fly.
Choi Won-tae faced an additional loss crisis in the top of the third inning, but he wisely overcame it. He hit a left-handed hit by leadoff hitter Kim Dong-heon, and later gave up a sacrifice bunt to Kim Joon-wan to become a runner on second base with one out, but he ended the inning by turning follow-up batters Kim Hye-sung (ground ball to second baseman) and Dawson (swing strikeout).
Choi Won-tae lost an additional point in the top of the fourth inning when the 1-1 tight match continued. After two outs, Lee Joo-hyung allowed a missed hit and sent Lim Byung-wook out on a walk to become the first and second bases with two outs. Later, Kim Tae-jin hit an RBI timely hit and allowed a 1-2 turnaround.
Choi Won-tae started the last inning in the top of the fifth inning with a 3-2 lead. The leadoff hitter Kim Hye-sung was sent out with an infield hit during a pitching lesson. He struck out Dawson, but stole the bases and Song Sung-moon’s grounder to second base led to two outs and third base. Choi Won-tae threw his 100th ball on the day, and finished the inning by treating Kim Hwi-jip with a straight hit to shortstop to prevent a run and taking care of the winning pitcher’s requirements.
Choi Won-tae scored six hits, two walks, five strikeouts and two runs in the final five innings and handed over the baton to relief pitcher Ham Deok-ju in the top of the sixth inning.
Meanwhile, LG is leading Kiwoom 5-2 in the game. If the game ends as it is without LG losing its lead, Choi Won-tae will become the winning pitcher.