The pitcher, who hadn’t started for the first team in over two years, pitched with such confidence that it was hard to recognize him.
SSG Landers left-hander Baek Seung-geon was more than just a “substitute starter,” he was the key to the team’s victory.
Baek Seung-geon started Game 6 of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the Samsung Lions at SSG Landers Field in Incheon on April 1 and shut down the Samsung bats with four innings of two-hit ball, one walk and two strikeouts. He didn’t get the win, but after four scoreless innings, he turned the mound over to the bullpen. The bats came through with run support and SSG took control early. The result was a 14-2 victory for SSG. Including this game, the team hasn’t allowed an earned run in their last eight games.
Kim Kwang-hyun, the “left-handed ace,” was scheduled to start the game, but his late-night drinking spree during the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March led to him publicly apologizing to the media before the game. After being expunged from the first-team roster, Kwang-hyun will not play for the time being and will take time to reflect.
Baek Seung-geon, who took over the starting duties, had originally planned to pitch three innings. His most recent start for the first team was on September 9, 2020, against the Incheon Kiwoom Heroes. Even though he’s been getting consistent opportunities since the beginning of the season and has been making relief appearances, it’s not easy to take on the role of a substitute starter.
The pressure was not lost on the coach. Before the game, SSG coach Kim Won-hyung said, “I don’t have a specific number of pitches, but I’m thinking about three innings if there are no special circumstances,” adding, “I want to prepare another pitcher immediately after the 1+1. This is a player who hasn’t started professionally as a starter. Last time, Elias went one inning longer than expected and filled up his pitch count, and Song Young-jin went five innings, but that’s not the case today.”
Seung-gun Baek, however, kept the momentum going with a scoreless second inning and a scoreless third. In the fourth inning, he was up to the task, working out of a jam with runners on first and second without allowing a run. This gave the bullpen, which was scheduled to be activated in the fourth inning, time to warm up and take over the mound in the fifth. The bullpen also received solid run support from the offense.
After the game, Baek Seung-gun reflected on his pitching, saying, “I was nervous because I hadn’t started in a long time, but I threw my pitches without avoiding battles with the batters, which led to a good result.” He added, “I followed the advice of my seniors and coaches, thinking that I was simply the first pitcher out, not the starter, and I didn’t get greedy for a long inning.”안전놀이터
In fact, due to the large score difference, they could have taken the mound until the fifth inning to win the game, but the SSG bench stuck to the plan. Coach Kim Won-hyung said, “I wanted to let him pitch until the fifth inning, but considering his physical condition and the next game, I didn’t let him pitch more. I’m sorry for the loss, but I think the team will understand.”
Baek Seung-gun also expressed his satisfaction for fulfilling his assignment, saying, “I think I fulfilled my role for four innings rather than whether I pitched in the fifth inning or not.” He vowed, “I’m happy to show my good pitching lately, and I want to continue to pitch well when the team needs me in any situation.