SSG Coach Kim Won-hyung “NC hitters are too good…how to stop them is key”
SSG, which won the combined regular season and Korean Series title last year, has changed its status from waiting for other teams at the top to being a challenger this year. SSG coach Kim Won-hyung, who qualified for the semi-finals with a third-place finish in the regular season, spoke to reporters ahead of the first game at home against NC on the 22nd. “Last year, we had a relaxing time at the end of the regular season and played with tension in the Korean Series, but this year, we were focused and tense because we kept fighting for the top spot until the end of the season. I think it’s a continuation of that now,” he said, adding, “If we can continue the atmosphere (of winning the third place fight), we will have good results.”
SSG started Roenis Elias (35) on the mound, while the batting order was Oh Tae-gon, Park Sung-hyung, Choi Jeong, Eredia, Han Yu-seom, Ha Jae-hoon, Choi Ji-hoon, Kim Sung-hyun, and Kim Min-sik. Choi Jung, the center fielder who was injured at the end of the regular season, started. “I checked him this morning and he’s in good shape,” Kim said. Choo Shin-soo, who showed weakness against NC starter Shin Min-hyuk, was left out of the starting lineup.
Kim was wary of NC’s hitting in the wild-card deciding game against Doosan. NC defeated Doosan 14-9 in the wild card game on April 19. Seo Ho-cheol and Kim Hyung-joon were hot at the plate, combining for three home runs and 10 RBIs. “NC’s first through fifth hitters are batting so well, and they’re consistently hitting in the triple digits, not just this year,” Kim said. “In the wild card game, the bottom of the lineup was hitting well, leading to the top of the lineup and scoring a lot of runs.” He added, “I have to admit that they’re hitting so well. It’s all about how you stop them. Hopefully, our starting pitcher will do a good job.”
The first game of the semifinals between SSG, which finished third in the regular season, and No. 4 NC, which made it through the wild card round, will be played at 2 p.m. on April 22 at SSG Landers Field in Incheon.