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Although the team’s loss was a disappointment, the former Korean Series MVP had a different story. SSG Landers center fielder Han Yoo-seom (34), whose batting performance skyrocketed at the end of the season, continued his good form in big games.
In the second game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League Semi-Playoffs (Semi-Po) against the NC Dinos at SSG Landers Field in Incheon at 6:30 p.m. on April 23, Han Yoo-seom started in the No. 5 spot in right field and went 2-for-4 with two home runs, three RBIs and two runs scored, including back-to-back home runs in the fourth and sixth innings.
Han Yoo-seom, who was 1-for-6 with a walk and three strikeouts against NC’s starter, Song Myung-ki, came up to bat with the bases loaded in the bottom of the second inning. After drawing a 2-2 count with Song Myung-ki, Han failed to capitalize on the opportunity, striking out on a five-pitch, 143-kilometer-per-hour fastball outside the zone.
But Han’s silence would end one at-bat later. Trailing 0-4, SSG came alive in the bottom of the fourth inning when leadoff hitter Guillermo Heredia walked. Stepping up to the plate, Han picked off three pitches in a row and then watched a strike, giving him a 3-ball-1-strike advantage. Here, he took aim at a five-pitch fastball on the body from Song Myung-ki and hit it sharply. The ball stretched out and went straight into the right-field bleachers. It was Han’s first home run of the postseason.
The fans at Landers Field erupted in cheers as Han Yoo-seom hit a home run. With the score tied at two, NC decided to pull Song Myung-ki from the mound. That one hit proved to be crucial.
She didn’t stop there. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Han came up to bat again with one out. After picking off the outside of the first pitch, she took the next pitch, a changeup, and didn’t miss. The ball sailed over the fence with center fielder Jason Martin unable to catch it. After confirming it was a home run, Han circled the bases, pumping his right fist in the air. The SSG fans on the first base side went into a frenzy. Han’s home run brought SSG to within one run, 3-4.
But that was as close as SSG would get. SSG didn’t score any more runs other than the three that Han Yoo-seom gave them with his two home runs. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Han Yusum was retired on a grounder to the pitcher. In the end, the team lost 3-7 and dropped game two of the series. However, if it weren’t for Han’s performance, SSG would have never had the momentum to make a comeback.
In 109 regular-season games this year, Han hit .273 with seven home runs, 55 RBIs, and a .748 OPS. On paper, these numbers are mediocre and don’t live up to his name. However, a closer look reveals a rollercoaster of a season.
Heading into the season, Han was given the captain’s armband and was under pressure to bat fourth. By July, he was struggling with a .184 batting average for the season. As a result, he was removed from the first team roster twice, in mid-June and late July, and took the captaincy back for himself. He felt that he couldn’t lead his teammates properly when he wasn’t playing his role. After reinstating him to the first team on August 5, coach Kim Won-hyung expressed his excitement, saying, “I think (Han) Yusum should be able to give the team a boost now.”
And Kim’s words became reality. After his call-up, Han hit .385 with five home runs, 33 RBIs, and a 1.021 OPS in 48 games. In particular, he hit .415 in 12 games in October, when 토토 the team was in the thick of the standings race, and helped lead the team to the semi-playoffs.
Han has a history of making an impact in big games. In 2018, he hit a game-winning home run in the 10th inning of Game 5 of the playoffs and a game-winning solo shot in the 13th inning of Game 6 of the Korean Series, earning him MVP honors in the Korean Series. This postseason, he continued to showcase his late-season hitting prowess.