Choi Ji-hoon (26), SSG Landers’ starting center fielder, proved with his skills why he is a candidate for the next national team center fielder.
The Korean baseball team, led by coach Ryu Joong-il, defeated Chinese Taipei 2-0 in the baseball finals of the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games held at the Shaoxing Baseball Softball Sports Center in Zhejiang Province, China, on the 7th (Korean time).
As a result, Korean baseball avenged the loss (0-4) suffered by Taiwan in the group stage and achieved the milestone of winning the Asian Games for the fourth time in a row, following the 2010 Guangzhou, 2014 Incheon, and 2018 Jakarta-Palembang competitions.
While starter Moon Dong-ju (Hanwha) showed excellent pitching by allowing 3 hits, no walks, 7 strikeouts, and no runs in 6 innings, Ji-hoon Choi started at number 2 and center field and led the team to victory by recording 1 hit and 1 walk in 3 at-bats.
On this day, Choi Ji-hoon started the attack on the Korean team. Choi Ji-hoon walked with one out in the top of the first inning and reached base for the first time. Although he did not contribute to the scoring situation in the second inning, he achieved his first hit in all games at this Asian Games with an infield hit with two outs in the fifth inning. This is the only record shared by Dong-hee Yoon (Lotte).
After that, he stayed in center field until the end and was present at the moment when the gold medal was confirmed, and finished the tournament with a batting average of 0.524 (11 hits in 21 at-bats), 1 home run, 5 RBI, 6 runs, and an OPS of 1.209 in 6 games. He ranked first in the team’s batting average, hits, and runs scored, proving that coach Ryu Joong-il’s choice was not wrong.
Choi Ji-hoon hits a hit with one out in the bottom of the first inning of the first game of the baseball group stage against Hong Kong at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games held at the Shaoxing Baseball Sports and Culture Center in Hangzhou, China on the 1st (Korean time). This was Ryu Joong-il’s first hit of the tournament.스포츠토토
Choi Ji-hoon is hitting a superior three-run shot with two outs and second and third bases in the bottom of the second inning of the third game of the baseball group stage against Thailand at the 19th Hangzhou Asian Games held at Shaoxing Baseball Stadium in Hangzhou, China on the 3rd (Korean time). This home run was Ryu Joong-il’s first hit of the tournament.
It is a life-changing scenario that would have been difficult to imagine even six years ago. When he graduated from Gwangju Jeil High School in 2017, ‘infielder’ Choi Ji-hoon was a player ignored by 10 professional teams. However, he entered Dongguk University and grew into the university’s best hitter, and was selected 30th overall in the second and third rounds of the 2020 rookie draft.
From then on, he was on a roll. Since his debut in 2020, he has been attracting attention as the successor to ‘Beast’ Kim Kang-min (41) with excellent outfield defense, and last year, as the starting center fielder, he hit .300 for the first time and led SSG to win wire-to-wire in the first regular season of the KBO League and dominate the Korean Series. . He proudly joined the first adult national team at the World Baseball Classic (WBC) held in March this year, and was selected as the starting center fielder for the 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games in June.
That doesn’t mean there wasn’t a crisis. Since April, his batting performance has been hovering around .200, and by the time the final announcement of the national team was made, expectations were low in areas other than defense. He joined the national team in September with a batting average of 0.317, with his batting skills greatly improved, but right before joining, he was confident, “I have never played for the youth national team or been a superstar like (Park) Seong-han, so I will go to the national team and do what I can.” I had put it down.
However, in this competition, Choi Ji-hoon was a superstar who shone brighter than anyone else. In his first game with the national team, the first game of the group stage against Hong Kong, Ryu Joong-il-ho’s first hit came from his bat, and in the third game of the group stage against Thailand, Ryu Joong-il-ho’s first home run came with a three-run striker. In the first game of the Super Round against Japan, he broke his no-hit streak with an exquisite bunt hit in the bottom of the fourth inning. In this way, he appeared in all games as Korea’s second and center fielder, opening the way for offense and solidifying his position as the next generation national team center fielder.
At an age that was thought to be the Maginot Line for enlistment, he proudly received military service benefits through his skills, and his personal career took a more solid path without any gaps.