One of the best events in college baseball is the regular season game between Yonsei University and Korea University. An alumnus recalls what it’s like to play against his former school.
NC Dinos outfielder Jae-hwan Shin, 29, experienced the regular season after enrolling at Korea University in 2013. He entered the regular starting lineup in 2014 as a sophomore, and in 2016 as a junior, he batted third and hit a game-winning single to lead KU to a 4-3 comeback victory.
At the time, KU had a good pitching staff, including Park Sang-won, Park Yoon-chul (Hanwha Eagles), Sung Jae-heon (LG Twins), and Kim Dong-woo (Lotte Giants). After falling behind 3-0, KU scored two runs in the fourth and two in the seventh to pull off a dramatic 4-3 victory.
And at the center of it all was Jae-Hwan Lee. After drawing a walk in the bottom of the fourth, he came around to score on Kim Ki-dam’s RBI double in the seventh. Then, with runners on first and second in the seventh, he hit a two-run double to left-center off Park Yoon-cheol.
“It was very good and fun,” recalled Jae-hwan, who met with the Lotte Giants on Aug. 8 at Changwon NC Park. “Yonsei had a good pitcher, and I wanted to do something good and win, but I couldn’t,” he said. “I wanted to win so badly, and it was great to hit the game-winning hit in the seventh inning.”
Unlike the recent regular season games at Mokdong Baseball Stadium in Seoul, the series was previously held at Jamsil Baseball Stadium. It’s a different experience to play in a ballpark where it’s difficult for amateur players to play and receive a lot of support. “It’s something that students from other schools don’t get to experience. There are a lot of spectators and a festive atmosphere, but there is also tension for the players who play in it.” “I experienced something early on that was hard to experience as a student,” he said.
Jae-hwan’s 2016 come-from-behind victory was the last regular-season win for KU. In the 2023 regular season game against Yonsei University at Mokdong Baseball Stadium on Aug. 8, KU lost 4-6. After taking the lead in the bottom of the second inning on a two-RBI triple by Lee Dong-joon, KU gave up a two-RBI single to Lee Do-gyeom with the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Down 2-6, KU pulled within two runs in the top of the ninth on an infield single by Ahn Jae-yeon and an RBI single by Park Gun-woo, but it was not enough to win the game.
This was KU’s fourth straight regular season baseball loss since 2017 (4-5 loss) (2018 was canceled due to a typhoon, and 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to COVID-19). After watching his juniors play, Jae-hwan expressed his disappointment, saying, “I didn’t see the whole game, but I saw that they were losing.” He then asked, “Was it the last time we won a regular season game?”
“In the past, even when we were more senior, the regular season was always a war, and the atmosphere was harsh,” he said. “Whether the atmosphere is warlike or enjoyable, the players always try to win anyway,” he added. “The regular season is something separate from grades and the rookie draft, so I hope they enjoy it,” he said.
Jae-hwan, who joined the NC in 2017 after graduating from Korea University, made his first-team debut last year after going through a series of ups and downs, including having his futures contract terminated once due to injury, and has made a name for himself this year with 75 appearances in the first team as of Aug. 8. He played college ball instead of the professional ranks in high school and eventually made it to the pros. It’s no wonder college baseball means so much to him.안전놀이터
“It’s unfortunate that college baseball is stagnating. There are fewer players being drafted than high school players,” he says. “Going through something like that can make you feel regretful that you went to college,” he said. “I think it’s necessary to improve yourself for four years so that you don’t regret it,” he added.