Ha Joo-seok of the Hanwha Eagles played a good role as a pinch hitter. On the other hand, shortstop Lee Do-yoon remained silent. Will the commander’s opinion of the shortstop position change?
Ha Joo-seok played an active part in the home game against Kiwoom Heroes in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on the 25th, with 1 hit in 2 at-bats, 1 walk, 2 points and 1 RBI. Hanwha scored 13 points at the end of the 8th inning and won 16-6 against Kiwoom.
Hanwha was trailing Kiwoom 3-6 until the end of the 7th inning. However, in the top of the 8th inning, Hanwha took the golden opportunity to safely load the bases with a hit by lead batter Moon Hyun-bin and walks by Kim Tae-yeon and Choi Jae-hoon.
While follow-up hitter Nick Williams retired to the shortstop infield fly, Hanwha chose pinch hitter Ha Joo-seok when 9th hitter Lee Do-yoon was at bat. Ha Joo-seok reciprocated the commander’s trust. After a game that went up to 6 pitches with Lee Myeong-jong of Kiwoom, the left fielder scored a hit.
Hanwha started the chase with Ha Joo-seok’s 1 RBI and timely hit, and then Lee Jin-young’s 1 RBI sacrifice fly, Roh Si-hwan’s push-off walk, and Chae Eun-sung’s 2 RBI and timely hit turned the game around. Ha Joo-seok walked as well in his second at-bat in the top of the 8th inning and appeared as a pinch hitter to complete his second base. In the end, thanks to Ha Joo-seok’s opening, Hanwha broke Kiwoom’s mound by scoring 13 points in the beginning of the 8th inning alone.
In defense, Ha Joo-seok showed a stable appearance. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Kim Dong-heon’s shortstop batted ball, which came out with no one on first base, turned into a neat double-seat. He was Chairman Ha, who performed impressively in both ball and defense.
Ha Joo-seok, who was Hanwha’s main shortstop in the 2022 season, was caught drunk driving in November last year and was suspended for 70 games by the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). Ha Joo-seok’s punishment was lifted on the 28th of last month.
Ha Joo-seok later participated in the Futures League and developed a sense of real combat. In his first game, against the Goyang Heroes on the 5th, he played an active role with 2 hits and 1 walk in 4 at-bats, including one double. Then, on the 6th, he went 4-for-7 (1 home run) and 3 RBIs and swung a hard hit.
In the end, coach Choi Won-ho let Ha Joo-seok join the first team on the 11th. However, Ha Joo-seok’s role was limited to backup and pinch hitter. This is because Lee Do-yoon, who took the place of Ha Joo-seok, developed day by day. Coach Won-ho Choi also gave support to Lee Do-yoon, saying that he would play as the starting shortstop for the time being.
However, on this day, Lee Do-yoon was silent with 3 at-bats, no hits and 1 strikeout. And at the beginning of the 8th inning, which is the match, he was replaced with Ha Joo-seok in the bases loaded with one company. This is the scene where it was revealed that Joo-seok Ha was rated higher in relation to hitting.
After the game, coach Choi Won-ho praised Ha Joo-seok’s performance, saying, “Ha Joo-seok’s timely hit at the top of the 8th inning was decisive.” Attention is focusing on whether manager Choi Won-ho’s thoughts on the starting shortstop will change.