‘A Premonition of the Legend of a Trainer’ Lee Seung-yeop, the first pitcher to win “A record that will remain for a lifetime… It’s nice to have my name engraved on it”
Doosan Lee Seung-ho’s historic first winning pitcher was neither ace Raul Alcantara nor native ace Choi Won-joon. Choi Ji-gang (22), a former foster player who had only two games in the first team, decorated a page in history as a lucky rescuer.
Choi Ji-kang made a relief mound in the opening game of the 2023 season against the Lotte Giants held at Jamsil Stadium in Seoul on the 1st, and became the winning pitcher with 1 strikeout and no runs in ⅔ innings.
Choi Ji-kang climbed the mound following Lee Byung-hun in a crisis with one out and first and second bases in the top of the 11th inning, with the score trailing 9-10. It was the first team mound in 211 days since the game against Lotte in Jamsil on September 2 last year, but Choi Ji-kang was calm. He struck out the first batter, Han Dong-hee, with a slider in 2B-2S. Later, in the bottom of the 11th inning, José Rojas hit a three-run homer to end the dramatic comeback, and his first win in his debut was confirmed. 토토사이트
Choi Ji-kang, who we met the next day in Jamsil, said, “I didn’t know if it would go up to episode 10, but he told me to warm up from episode 11. Fortunately, he got on the mound and seemed to throw my ball. It was so good when Rojas’ home run came out. It’s nice to have my name engraved on it,” he said.
Choi Ji-kang is still an unfamiliar pitcher to Doosan fans. After graduating from Gwangju Dongseong High School-Gangneung Yeongdong University, he joined the 2022 Doosan Fostering Player, and from the first year he received a chance in the 1st group, but only had an average ERA of 21.60 (1 ⅔ innings 4 ERA) in 2 games. After that, he could not go to Australia again this year and remained in Icheon to complete Futures Spring Camp.
Choi Ji-kang, who had been working hard in the second team, was finally called by coach Lee Seung-yeop during an exhibition game. And he made an impact with 4 games, 1 hold, 1 save and an ERA of 2.25, realizing his dream of being on the opening roster. He wasn’t just enrolled in the first team to simply show potential. Coach Lee said, “I received a good report from the 2nd team. He decided that he could fill the gap left by Kim Kang-ryul’s injury.”
Choi Ji-kang said, “The first team call-up is not something I can do. I prepared well, thinking that if I was doing something, the opportunity would come someday, but the opportunity came sooner than I thought. I prepared well, so I thought the results would be good if I only showed what I prepared, but it turned out.”
Choi Ji-kang graduated from high school and went through college to become a professional player as a foster player rather than a rookie draft. That’s why his first win came all the more different. “I never expected to win my first win this quickly,” he said. The seniors helped me well, and there were good results as everything was well matched. Shin Seong-hyun sunbaenim took care of the ball he threw at the end of the 11th inning as a commemorative ball.”
Choi Ji-kang did his filial piety properly by winning his first victory in front of his parents who visited the stadium. He said, “After the game, his father bought me an eel. He was very much liked by his parents. He even praised me for doing a good job.”
Choi Ji-kang, who clearly imprinted the three characters of his name from the opening match, said, “The speed is good, and the control is not too far off. This year, I want to go out in a winning situation and help the team. Before that, I will become a pitcher who believes and uses in winning situations.”