I almost retired last year… The final hit, the wedge shot, the winning series

It’s no exaggeration to say that Kim’s two swings made the difference in the series. The Samsung Lions swept a three-game series over the weekend thanks to veteran outfielder Kim Heon-gon.

Kim started in the sixth spot in left field and went 1-for-4 with one home run and one RBI in the third game of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League against the KIA Tigers at Gwangju-KIA Champions Field on Sunday.

The previous day, Kim came in as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth inning with the score tied at 4-4 and hit a single up the middle against KIA’s Jeon Sang-hyun. It was his first hit in 592 days since Aug. 23, 2022, against the Incheon SSG Landers (RBI). Samsung went on to score two more runs to win 7-4. Teammates gave Kim a rousing welcome back to the dugout.

The manager was also pleased with Kim’s performance. Before the third game against KIA on July 7, Samsung manager Park Jin-man said, “I wanted to play a player with good contact from the bench. The opposing infield was playing forward defense, and we thought we could win the game if we hit the ball,” he said. “Kim has good contact, so we used him in that situation, and we were able to get a good hit and win the game.”

“The year before and last year, (Kim) didn’t have a good season in the end. Last year, he had to take a year off due to injury, and I hope he can find his form again, so I hope he can show good performance from today (July 7) after his final hit on the sixth.” As Park said, Kim suffered from a back injury last year. He was even worried that he would quit baseball.

Kim was in the lineup as the sixth hitter and left fielder in Game 7. He didn’t make much of an impact until the middle of the game. After striking out in his first at-bat, Kim’s next two at-bats were a fly ball and a ground ball.

But Kim didn’t miss his last chance. Facing Kia’s Jang Hyun-sik in the top of the eighth inning with his team leading 4-3, Kim pulled a four-pitch 148-kilometer/h fastball on a one-pitch, two-strike count over 바카라 the left-field fence for a massive solo arch. His first home run in 639 days since July 8, 2022, against the SSG Landers in Daegu. The distance was 115 meters.

After Kim’s home run, Samsung added two more runs in the top of the ninth inning to secure a 7-3 victory and a second straight win and a sweep of the series. While the bullpen’s performance in the fourth through sixth innings was crucial, Kim’s single was the final nail in the coffin for Kia.

“It was my first start in a long time, and I wasn’t too worried about anything,” Kim said. “The void of (Gu) Jauk (who was out with gallbladder symptoms) is big, but I tried my best to contribute to the team,” he said. “I tried to cut on an unfavorable pitch, but I think the mistake led to a home run. I’m glad I was able to help the team win the game rather than just hit a home run.”

While Samsung’s outfield has seen a lot of young talent in recent years, Kim proved his competitiveness in this series. “My hitting hasn’t been bad lately,” he said. I will always be prepared to help the team, whether it’s fielding or hitting,” he said.

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