He made up for it in the offense with his defense. Outfielder Kim Hyun-jun, 21, who is only in his third year, saved the team from defeat with his determination.
Kim batted 1-for-6 with a home run and two RBIs in the middle infield against the KIUM Heroes in the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on April 28.
Kim Hyun-joon went back and forth between hell and heaven on this day. A crucial error on defense led to a run, but he overcame it with his own strength.
The disappointing moment came in the bottom of the sixth inning. Kim Hye-sung singled with no outs, and Kim Hyun-joon faked a catch and tried to throw it out at first base. However, he didn’t catch it properly and spilled the ball, allowing Lee Yong-gyu to reach third base.
It was recorded as a ‘one-hit, one-error’ play, putting runners on first and third. Later, Ronnie Dawson’s sacrifice fly, which was not a hit, allowed the third baseman to score easily. The run was not recorded as an unearned run, meaning that it would not have been a run if not for the error.
The offense had a chance to make up for it, but it was not to be. In the top of the eighth inning, Lee Jae-hyun drew an eight-pitch walk and pulled Ariel Furado, who had been pitching well, from the mound.
With Kim Hyun-jun at bat, Kiwoom sent left-hander Kim Jae-woong to the mound. It was a chance to make up for his earlier defensive mistake, but Kim struck out swinging on five pitches. Kim’s strikeout was even more disappointing as Samsung scored two runs on back-to-back singles and a wild pitch.
It could have been disheartening, but Kim composed himself, and the opportunity came again in the top of the ninth.
Ryu Ji-hyuk and Kim Sung-yoon hit back-to-back singles off Kiwoom’s new pitcher, Ha Young-min, and a sacrifice bunt by Lee Jae-hyun put runners 안전놀이터 on second and third. From there, Kim Hyun-jun hit the second pitch hard and it sailed over the second baseman for a single.
With two runners on base, the score was tied at 4-4. After stepping on first base, Kim roared to erase his earlier disappointment.
In the top of the 11th inning, Kim Hyun-jun led off with a double and advanced to third base, but was unable to score the winning run. In the 12th inning, the teams traded runs and the game ended in a 5-5 tie.
Although Samsung didn’t win the game, it was Kim Hyun-joon’s performance that saved the team from the brink of defeat.
Kim Hyun-jun has been one of the most talked about players lately. Along with Yoon Dong-hee and Kim Min-seok (Lotte), he is being considered for a spot on the Asian Games team in place of the injured Lee Jung-hoo (Kiwoom).
The attention can be both motivating and overwhelming. However, Kim has proven that he deserves to be in the spotlight by overcoming what could have been a self-defeating crisis.