‘Shhhh!’ Serenade to opposing coach: “It was a misunderstanding,” explains Jang Hyun-seok

“I think there was a misunderstanding”

Masan Yongmago’s Jang Hyun-seok pitched a “stellar” game against Gwangju Jinheung-go in the Round of 32 of the 78th Cheongnyonggi National Baseball Championship at Mokdong Baseball Stadium in Seoul on the 19th, throwing 47 pitches, giving up one hit, one walk and striking out six in 3⅓ innings.

Jang Hyun-seok is the most highly touted pitcher in this year’s KBO First-Year Player Draft. With a fastball that tops out at over 150 kilometres per hour and a changeup that is said to be at the top of its game, there is a good chance that Jang will be wearing the uniform of the Hanwha Eagles, who hold the first overall pick in the KBO Draft.

However, Jang is still undecided about his future. Major League Baseball clubs are very interested in him. Even before the game was suspended due to rain the previous day (18th), scouts from KBO and major league clubs came to Mokdong Baseball Stadium to watch Jang Hyun-seok when the game resumed on the 19th.

Jang Hyun-seok, who took the mound in the second inning of the previous day’s game after falling behind 0-1, struck out the first batter, Park Sung-ha, to end the inning. Then, in the third inning, he retired the central batting line-up of Kim Ho-jin, Kim Jae-min, and Lee Joo-hyun, and in the fourth inning, he retired the lower batting line-up of Park Kyu-seung, Shin Seong-jung, and Kim Siwan. In particular, his strikeout of four consecutive batters after the first inning in the third inning was a ‘masterpiece’.

The previous day, it rained heavily in the morning in the Seoul metropolitan area, and the game between Yongmago and Jinheunggo was declared suspended after waiting for more than an hour and a half. The game resumed at 8am on the 19th with Yongmago trailing 0-1 in the top of the fifth inning, and Jang Hyun-seok was on the mound for the second consecutive day. Jang’s pitching was a little different from the previous day, perhaps because he took the mound with only a short break due to unexpected variables.

Jang got off to a shaky start in the top of the fifth inning when he gave up a walk to leadoff batter Ryu Siu, then was hit by a fastball to follow-up hitter Kang Joo-hyung for a double to left field. Runners on second and third with no outs. This is where Jang really came into his own. When his fastball didn’t do what he wanted it to, he turned to his changeup.

With runners on second and third, he threw a slider that formed towards his body to Park Sung-ha, Jinheung Go’s No. 2 hitter, and got him to ground out for a double play. He then threw three pitches in a row to Kim Ho-jin, who was shaky, but he put two changeups in the strike zone to force a 3B-2S full-count battle, and he got the next batter, Kim Jae-min, to ground out to third base on a 2B-2S pitch to end the inning without a run.

Jang Hyun-seok, who had escaped a big jam with his ‘overwhelming’ pitching, performed a roaring ceremony as he came off the mound. Yongmago tied the game in the top of the ninth with two outs, and with two outs in the top of the extra inning, Son Yul-ki hit a three-run double to complete a thrilling comeback to win 4-1 and advance to the round of 16.

After the game, Jang Hyun-seok took time to explain. It was because of what happened the day before (18th). Jang Hyun-seok, who was pitching with the bases loaded, did something that could be considered a balk. Cries of “Balk!” erupted from all over Mokdong Stadium, but the umpires didn’t call him out on it, and as he walked off the mound to close out the inning, he put his finger to his mouth and performed a “shhh” gesture, meaning “be quiet,” which garnered a lot of attention.

“What I did to (Jinheungo coach Kim In-ho) was really ridiculous,” Jang said after the round of 32 match against Jinheungo. “From the time I was on the mound, there was a little bit of fighting on the Jinheungo bench. I was just listening, but it was so bad until the moment I went down the mound that I asked the players on the bench to keep quiet.”먹튀검증

After Jang Hyun-seok was suspended the previous day, he and Yongmago coach Jin Min-soo visited Jinheung-go coach Kim In-ho to apologise. He said, “After it was reported that I made a provocation, my coach and I went to Kim In-ho and said, ‘I’m sorry, it wasn’t like that. Coach Kim In-ho said, ‘It’s okay. I think everyone misunderstood,” he explained.

Jang Hyun-seok, who is still in his third year of high school, has learned a lot from the incident. “I didn’t do serenades until last year,” he said, “but this is my last season, so I feel like I’m expressing myself in terms of good, bad, and ugly. Yesterday (18th) was also my own expression, but it was misunderstood. I felt a lot of ‘I shouldn’t do this’ in the future.”

With the win punching Yongmago’s ticket to the round of 16, we can expect to see Jang Hyun-seok continue to throw for the Blue Dragon. “Today’s game started quickly and it was physically difficult. I felt like I didn’t have enough spin on my fastball, so I tried to pitch to match it,” he said. “I don’t know what our game schedule will be, the coach will decide, but I think I’ll keep pitching. I’ve never been a starter before, and I want to give it a shot,” he smiled.

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