Ahn Ik-hoon’s ‘game-tying sacrifice fly’ “Fast runner, (Kim) Hyun-soo behind him…no pressure”

Ahn Ik-hoon gives his final thoughts.

The LG Twins won the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League against the Lotte Giants on April 17 at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul, South Korea. LG won the game 6-5 in the ninth inning to extend its winning streak to two games.

Ahn Ik-hoon, who came off the bench, hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth inning. It was his first RBI in two games this season.

LG lost the lead from 5-3 to 5-5 in the top of the ninth inning when closer Yoo Young-chan struggled. In the bottom of the ninth, Park Hae-min singled, Shin Min-jae and Hong Chang-gi walked to load the bases, and Ahn Ik-hoon hit a sacrifice fly to bring in Park to end the game.

“I wasn’t really nervous,” Ahn said of his last at-bat. He trusted the next batter. Ahn had been replaced by Moon Sung-joo and was batting second in the order.

“Hae-min, Min-jae, and Chang-gi are all fast runners, so I thought that if I made an in-play hit, I would score somehow,” Ahn said. “Also, there was (Kim) Hyun-soo behind me, so even if I didn’t hit it, I went to the plate thinking that it was a full game, and I just hit it.”

In fact, Ahn’s hit was too shallow to be a sacrifice fly. It only extended just outside the infield. However, Park Hae-min, the runner on third base, made a bold run for home, and Lotte was unable to stop him.

“Even if I didn’t hit it, I thought it was okay because I had Hyun-soo behind me,” said Ahn Ik-hoon. “After I hit it, I saw Hae-min getting ready and thought he was going to run. Then I looked at the outfielder and saw that he caught the ball from below instead of above. I also heard from the power analysis that his shoulder wasn’t 100 percent, so I thought he was going to tag up.”

Instead of using Kim Bum-seok, the “No. 1 hitter,” in the clutch, manager Yoon Kyung-yup sent out Ahn Ik-hoon. Not only because the opposing pitcher was right-hander Kim Won-joong, but also because he had faith in Ahn. Yoon even spoke to Ahn personally when he was in the pinch-hitting spot. “He said, ‘The pitcher only throws two pitches, a fastball and a forkball, so just hit it confidently,'” Ahn said of the coach’s “instructions.

Ahn Ik-hoon has been hitting well in the Futures League this season, batting .444, and has earned a call-up to the first team. However, LG is a team with a “national outfield. With Park Hae-min, Hong Chang-ki, and Moon Sung-joo as the three clear-cut outfielders, Ahn is 사설토토 forced to play a backup role.

“I thought that if I enjoyed playing baseball with the juniors in the second team, the situation would come,” Ahn said. “If I was a young player, I would have felt awkward not being a starter, but now I’ve been playing LG for 10 years. I played as a backup under the seniors from a young age. I’m just thinking that if I can prepare well down there (the second team), then when something happens up there (the first team), I can come up and play at 100 percent,” he said.

There will be some adjustments. That’s because of the new ABS. “In the second division, not all stadiums have ABS,” Ahn explains. In the Northern League, where we play, there is no ABS. So I think I’m going to have to adapt to the ABS while batting now.” (Photo: Ahn Ik-hoon)


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