“The electronic board and the ball overlapped…”
Moon Bo-kyung returned home from the Hangzhou Asian Games (AG) with a gold medal after defeating Chinese Taipei in the gold medal match at Incheon International Airport on Monday. Moon’s stellar performance in the final, both offensively and defensively, spearheaded Korea’s fourth consecutive Asian Games title.
Before leaving Hangzhou, Moon’s hitting was at its “peak. She batted .405 (15-for-37) with two home runs and nine RBIs in 10 games, and showed good feel for the game with a hit in an exhibition game against the Commerce Phoenix. However, once the Hangzhou Asian Games began, Moon was a different story.
During the team’s Group B games against Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, and Thailand, Moon managed just four hits. Considering the two cold-game wins, it was a pretty bad sign, and it continued into the Super Round against Japan. The good news is that her batting form picked up in the final stages of the tournament.
After going 0-for-4 in the second game of the Super Round against China, Moon came back with a game-winning double in her final at-bat. And in the final, she really shined with the bat and ball. Moon hit a double in her first at-bat against Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yumin, a team she had been tied with in the group stage. This led to the game-winning run.
With runners on first and third and the bases loaded, Kim Joo-won hit a sacrifice fly that traded one out for a run. Back-to-back singles by Kim Hyung-jun and Kim Sung-yoon put runners on second and third, and Lin Yumin was hit by a pitch to bring home Kim Hyung-jun from third to extend the lead to 2-0.
It wasn’t just the offense that shined. In the top of the fifth inning, with the score 2-0, Lin Zhihao hit a hard-hit ball toward first base, and despite not being in her primary position, Moon played a watertight defense, putting the burden on the shoulders of starter Moon Dong-ju. The result was a 2-0 victory for South Korea over Chinese Taipei, with Moon scoring the game-winning run.
When asked at Incheon International Airport on Aug. 8 if she cried after the victory, Moon said, “I almost cried. I didn’t cry. I cringed,” she said, recalling the emotional moment: “It was my first national team, my first time playing baseball, and I was in the top five. At times, the flag felt heavy, and there was a lot of pressure to do better than the regular season. I was happy that everyone worked hard and produced a good result,” he said.
Moon Bo-kyung, whose main position is third base but who has been playing first base for the national team, said, “There was no pressure. The only difference was the angle when catching the ball. Our national team players have very good shoulders, so it was a little difficult at first because the ball came hard, but I got used to it as I trained.”
Her biggest disappointment in first base defense was missing Kim Joo-won’s throw in the ninth inning against Japan. On the flip side, her happiest moment came in the final against Chinese Taipei, when she caught Hye-Sung Kim’s grounder to end the game, and she hugged Kim and said, “I’m sorry. When asked about her missed catch against Japan, Moon said, “I could have caught it, but the ball went in and out of my glove. I was really sorry that I put them in a difficult situation.”
“My brother (Park) Hae-min called me to say, ‘Get a grip,’ after I missed it against Japan,” Moon said with a wry smile. “I couldn’t see the ball for a moment because of the overlap of the electronic board and the ball, but I thought I had to catch it somehow. I didn’t think I could run first because there was no video replay, so I was running all the way around the bases. Then I saw that they called the out, and I ran, and I was like, ‘I’ve won, I’ve won,'” he smiled.
Moon said, “My brother (Oh) Ji-hwan told me, ‘You have to be more aggressive at times like that,’ and (Kim) Hye-sung told me to be more aggressive. And (Kim) Hye-sung and his brothers on the national team were talking about how their other pitches were unlucky and got caught. When I thought about it, I realized that it wasn’t just the balls that missed, and I felt more confident and unafraid after hearing these stories.”
In Moon’s absence, LG won its first regular season title in 29 years. The team tried to share in the joy by hanging the jerseys of Moon, Jung, Woo-young, and Ko in the dugout, as well as the jersey of Ham Deok-ju, who was sidelined with an injury. However, Moon admitted that he was so focused on the national team that he didn’t pay attention to the team’s performance.스포츠토토
“Honestly, I didn’t care about the team because I was focused on the national team. I’ll be back tomorrow (Oct. 10) and I think it will be better if I go and feel it,” he said, adding, “It’s better because both the national team and my team won.” As the interview came to a close, LG fans at Incheon International Airport congratulated Moon on her Asian Games gold medal with a loud chant, and she walked out of the airport with an embarrassed smile on her face.