This is a promise Park Se-woong (27, Lotte Giants) made 메이저놀이터 before moving to Tokyo, Japan, where the World Baseball Classic (WBC) will be held in 2023. The time has come to keep that promise once more. Park Se-woong took on the task of saving Korea in crisis by starting in the Group B match against the Czech Republic in the first round of the 2023 WBC held at Tokyo Dome, Japan on the 12th.
As soon as the tournament started, Korea faced the worst record. They are beaten by baseball fans as they lost 7-8 in the opening game against Australia on the 9th and even collapsed 4-13 against Korea and Japan on the 10th. Korea set the goal of advancing to the semifinals in 14 years after the runner-up in the 2009 tournament and shouted “Revival of Korean baseball”, but only realized the gap with world baseball and was beaten.
In particular, the sluggishness of the mound was painful. Starting with field training in Arizona in the middle of last month, they have been preparing for the tournament by enduring a forced march to Gocheok Dome in Korea and Osaka in Japan, but this schedule seems to have poisoned the pitchers. Coach Lee and other coaches were deeply troubled because the pitchers’ condition did not improve from the Arizona camp, but it was as expected when the tournament started. The Korean mound collapsed with 23 hits and 14 runs in the last two games, giving up 21 runs.
It is no exaggeration to say that Park Se-woong is currently in the best condition of the national team. On the 7th, he started in the evaluation match against the Hanshin Tigers and completed the final inspection by making a perfect pitch with 21 pitches, no hits, no four balls, 1 strikeout and no runs in 2 innings. In the game against Japan on the 10th, he took the mound in the bottom of the 7th inning, trailing 4-13, in danger of losing a cold game, and fought back with no hits, no hits, no runs, 1 strikeout, and no runs in 1⅓ innings. His highest fastball speed was 149 km, which was different from world-class pitchers, but he mixed various breaking balls such as cutter, curve, slider, and changeup to calm the Japanese lineup.
Right before the tournament, Park Se-woong showed confidence, saying, “(My physical condition) seems to have improved a lot. The restraint seems to have come out well. I want to go to Tokyo and repay the fans with better results.”
In addition, he said, “It’s a pitcher with a lot of ground balls. The defense itself is solid, so I think good results will come out if I throw with confidence in the defense.” expressed joy.
Park Se-woong is almost the only pitcher in the national team who stands tall with Won Tae-in (Samsung). He continues to deliver good results aggressively putting strikes where he wants them. He becomes the No. 1 ball, and since there is a definite decision ball, it is a situation where the calculation is standing.
Park Se-woong said, “I tried to throw a little more strikes, and I think I tried to throw the ball as soon as I caught the tempo so as not to drag it for a long time. The overall feeling was good. The feeling of using power was not bad.”
In Group B, Japan took first place with three wins and confirmed their advance to the quarterfinals. 2nd place Australia won 2, 3rd place Czech Republic 1 win 1 loss, 4th place Korea 2 losses, 5th place China 3 losses in that order.
If Korea is to use a miracle to advance to the quarterfinals, Japan and the Czech Republic will definitely need help. Only when Japan wins all 4 matches can the number of cases be calculated after Korea wins both the Czech Republic and China matches. In addition, if Korea defeats the Czech Republic on the 12th and Japan defeats Australia, the Czech Republic must win the match between the Czech Republic and Australia at 12:00 noon on the 13th. If Korea, Australia, and the Czech Republic achieve 2 wins and 2 losses at once, the team that lost the least points in the match between the three countries can advance to the quarterfinals as the second place in Group B. Park Se-woong’s shoulders are heavy against the Czech Republic.
Will Park Se-woong be able to shake off the pressure and fulfill his mission by calming down the other players in the Czech Republic? Lotte’s glasses ace becomes a national glasses ace, raising questions about whether it will lead Korea’s quarterfinal base.