Wednesday, 24th April 2024

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Hanwha’s ‘crazy run in 26 years’, carefully aiming for ‘the ranking’

Choi Won-ho (51), Hanwha Eagles coach who led the team to eight consecutive wins since joining the team during the last season, could not imagine such momentum. Hanwha is running in a frightening race that surprises everyone.

The Hanwha Eagles led by Choi Won-ho won an 8-5 victory over the KT Wiz at the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League home game held at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon on Thursday. The team continued its thrilling winning streak in front of a packed crowd for two consecutive days.

Win, win, win. After losing the opening game, the team has won six consecutive games, closely trailing the Kia Tigers (four wins and no losses). The fact that the Hanwha Eagles recorded six wins and one loss in seven games since the opening game dates back to 26 years ago. As such, the upturn is somewhat strange to that of the Hanwha Eagles, which has been at the bottom of the standings for a long time.

“I can’t predict this. I expected to do well, but I didn’t expect this,” Choi Won-ho said of Hanwha’s aggressive moves before the game.

The perfect balance of pitching and hitting continues. He scored 40 points in seven games. In other words, he scored nearly six points per game. On the other hand, he lost 26 points. He lost less than four points per game. Even in terms of arithmetic, he has no choice but to win.

“Peraza has been performing better than expected in the starters and batters,” Choi said. “In fact, other batters did not come up much, but Eun-sung (Chae) hit well in the game against LG, and Si-hwan (No) failed to produce many hits, but he hit two home runs and Chi-hong (Ahn) is gradually improving his batting pace. In a way, the batting lineup has been led by Peraza so far.”

The team also expressed its intention that batters should generally be in good condition despite good results. On the day, Hanwha’s players perfectly met the expectations of its head coach. On the day, Hanwha scored eight runs on 12 hits and six walks. Jonathan Peraza, who trusted the team, had two hits, one RBI and two walks from three times at bat, including a first solo home run, and Ahn Chi-hong, a transfer player, also hit a homerun on the back of this season.

What’s more encouraging is that all but Lee Jae-won had a hit in the starting lineup. As such, Moon displayed even-handed performance. Leading hitter Moon also made Choi smile by hitting a wedge-two-run double in the bottom of the eighth inning when his team was trailing 6-3.

After the game, manager Choi Won-ho said, “Perazawa, who is raising the dugout atmosphere with his energetic play, and Ahn Chi-hong, who brought a good flow with his running home run,” adding, “Jung Eun-won and Im Jong-chan also opened up chances actively, and Moon Hyun-bin also did not give up the flow with an RBI when needed.”

He displayed impressive performance on the mound. Starting pitcher Felix Peña pitched perfectly until the fourth inning, but allowed two runs in the fifth inning, striking out two with 95 pitches, three hits (one homer) and three walks, and allowed two runs in the fifth inning, before taking the mound from the sixth inning. It was a disappointing pitch, but he finished his mission despite the requirements for his victory.

Kim Ki-joong, who took the mound afterwards, was somewhat shaken and allowed one run, but Joo Hyun-sang, who took the mound with one out and runners on first and second bases in the sixth inning, struck out Jang Sung-woo as a pinch hitter and turned Kim Sang-soo into a fly ball to right field, erasing the crisis. In the seventh inning, he seemed to be somewhat shaken by consecutive hits, but he induced Mel Rojas Jr. and Park Byung-ho to hit consecutive grounder to shortstop with a changeup, blocking the game without allowing a point.

Then, Han Seung-hyuk, who took the mound in the eighth inning, faced four batters and defended them cleanly without much crisis. The two have not conceded a single point in five games this season, and are displaying overwhelming pitching as “Mr. Zero” side by side. In addition, five of the six wins that the Hanwha Eagles secured were recorded as starting wins. Ironically, all starting pitchers except Ryu Hyun-jin, the highest value in the KBO League, continued their winning streak in all games with no loss.

Choi said, “He pitched at a time when the main phenomenon was important, overcoming the crisis and preventing the next inning, contributing greatly to the victory. He has been playing well every day to protect his team’s victory,” and praised the pitching staff’s performance, saying, “Penya also played his role as a starter for five innings.”

If Kia loses to the Doosan Bears, the Hanwha Eagles will become the lone No. 1 player. The last time Hanwha Eagles became the lone No. 1 was on March 30, 2014, exactly 10 years ago. After winning its second game after canceling the opening game, the rest of the teams recorded one win and one loss to rank No. 1 overall. This time, it is different. Even though it is early in the season, the team is truly the lone No. 1 player.

“I want to compliment all of our players who have been continuing their winning streak without losing focus,” Choi said. He is such a perfect flow that it is hard to pinpoint anyone.

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