It was 15 years ago, Kim Kwang-hyun’s rise to the ‘Japanese Killer’… Shall we face Japan again at WBC?
It was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It was a tournament in which Kim Gwang-hyeon (SSG), a pitcher in his second year as a professional at the time, won the Taegeuk mark and became the ‘Japanese Killer’.
15 years have passed since then. In the 5th World Baseball Classic (WBC) in 2023, Kim Gwang-hyun will participate as the eldest pitcher. Will there be another chance to face Japan?
Kim Kwang-hyun started the game against Japan in the full league of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Against Japan, where there are many left-handed hitters, Kim Gwang-hyun fought hard with a fast ball and a slider, giving up one run in 5⅓ innings. He was substituted with one runner left after one run in the sixth inning when the score was tied 0-0, and Yoon Seok-min, who came up as a relief pitcher, scored one run as Takahiro Arai hit a two-run home run.
Kim Gwang-hyun, who came to the pro and successfully played his first international match against Japan, later took on the starting role again against Japan, which he met again in the semifinals. He blocked the game without conceding in the crisis with one out and first and third bases in the first inning, and allowed one run in the second inning. He was rocked by a wild pitch in the third inning and allowed one extra run. However, he was scoreless until the eighth inning with stable pitching from the fourth inning. He threw well with 2 runs in 8 innings, and Lee Seung-yeop’s come-from-behind home run made him the winning pitcher.
Kim Gwang-hyeon laid the foundation for victory as a starting pitcher in both matches against fateful rival Japan, and was the main player in winning the gold medal in 9 victories.
Since then, Kim Gwang-hyun, who participated in the 2009 WBC competition, the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, the 2015 Premier 12, and the 2019 Premier 12 as a national representative, was also selected for the 5th WBC team to be held in March. Although 15 years have passed since the Beijing Olympics, he still maintains his skills enough to be selected for the national team.
Kim Gwang-hyun, who returned after two years of major league life in 2020-2021, played an active role with an average ERA of 2.13 with 13 wins and 3 losses in 28 games last year, leading SSG to the combined championship.
The WBC national team, led by coach Lee Kang-cheol, will play the Group B match against Japan, Australia, China and the Czech Republic in the first round in March. 스포츠토토
The national team is focusing everything on winning against Australia on March 9th. This is because Korea, which was eliminated in the first round consecutively in the 2013 and 2017 tournaments, is first to pass the first round. 1st and 2nd place in the group advance to the next round.
If the national team beats Australia, they have a very good chance of qualifying for the quarter-final tournament with at least second place in their group. Even if it loses to Japan, it seems safe to win against China and the Czech Republic. National team coach Lee Kang-cheol will return to Korea on the 9th after visiting the Australian league to analyze the strength of recent Australian players.
The best form as a starting pitcher in the national team roster is Kim Gwang-hyun. Ahn Woo-jin (Kiwoom), who won the Golden Glove, was not selected for the national team due to controversy over school violence, so the ace is Kim Gwang-hyun.
If it is a strategy to win against Australia, Kim Gwang-hyun will be the first choice for the Australian game at the moment. The final decision will be made after examining the condition of the pitchers until the national team’s training in February next year and the tournament in March, but for now, Kim Gwang-hyun will be the ace pitcher with rich international experience and good pitches in the national team.
If Kim Gwang-hyun starts against Australia, another pitcher must start against Japan on March 10th. And in this WBC tournament, both teams must advance to the final after the first round of the group stage for a head-to-head match.