“Genius hitter” Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom) said goodbye to fans in his final home game.
Lee made his comeback from injury on Tuesday when he came up to bat as a pinch-hitter in the eighth inning of a home game against the Samsung Lions at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.
He suffered a left ankle injury on July 27 and was sidelined for more than two months after undergoing surgery. Although he didn’t have to play due to Kiwoom’s early exit from the postseason, Lee, who has announced his intention to try out for the Major League Baseball (MLB) at the end of this season, played in the game to say goodbye to the home fans. It had been 80 days since he had played in a league game.
Before the game, head coach Hong Won-ki announced that Lee would pinch-hit for Lee Jung-hoo, but the game turned out to be a strange one.
Kiwoom, who held a 3-0 lead until the end of the seventh inning, gave up three runs on defense in the top of the eighth to tie the game, making it difficult for Lee to step up to the plate.
However, Kiwoom scored an offensive run in the bottom of the eighth, dramatically freeing up Lee to step up to the plate. With the bases loaded and Lim Ji-yeol hitting a two-run home run to tie the game, manager Hong Won-ki wasted no time in bringing in Park Soo-jong to pinch-hit for Lee Jung-hoo.
Lee appeared on the field to the roar of the crowd and politely greeted the home fans by removing his helmet before stepping into the batter’s box.
On the mound was Kim Tae-hoon, a transfer who had been battling with Ki Um-seo for a long time. Against Kim Tae-hoon, who didn’t shy away from a head-to-head battle, Lee showed his persistence in a 12-pitch duel.
In the middle of the game, he hit a two-run shot to the top of the order, but it just missed the foul line.
Showing off his ability to make contact, Lee eventually made an in-play hit off of Kim Tae-hoon’s 12-pitch at-bat, but Samsung’s defense shift resulted in a 사설토토 grounder to third base. Despite not getting a hit, the fans in the stadium chanted Lee’s name and welcomed his return.
Not content with just hitting, Lee played center field to close out the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Although he didn’t handle the ball, he was able to celebrate the final home win of the season with his teammates.