SSG Landers’ Cho Byung-hyun (22) quieted a volcanic Kiwoom Heroes batting lineup to help his team escape its third straight loss.

Cho Byung-hyun came on in the top of the seventh inning of the 2024 Shinhan SOL Bank KBO League regular-season home game between Kiwoom and SSG Landers at Incheon SSG Landers Field in Michuhol-gu, Incheon, South Korea (total attendance: 9,468) on Monday and pitched two innings of one-hit ball with no walks and one strikeout to earn his first career win.

SSG, which had lost three straight games, defeated Kiwoom 8-5, which had won seven straight games, to move into third place with 9-6 record, thanks to Cho Byung-hyun’s performance.

Kiwoom’s lineup was Lee Joo-hyung (designated hitter), Ronnie Dawson (left fielder), Kim Hye-sung (second baseman), Choi Ju-hwan (first baseman), Kim Hwi-jip (shortstop), Lee Hyung-jong (right fielder), Song Sung-moon (third baseman), Kim Jae-hyun (catcher), and Ye Jin-won (center fielder). Son Hyun-ki was the starter.

SSG’s lineup was Choi Ji-hoon (center fielder), Park Sung-sung (shortstop), Choi Jung (third baseman), Guillermo Heredia (left fielder), Ha Jae-hoon (right fielder), Han Yu-seom (designated hitter), Lee Ji-young (catcher), Go Myung-joon (first baseman), and Kim Sung-hyun (second baseman). Oh Won-seok was the starter.

The game was far from over, especially with Kiwoom’s momentum, which had just swept three straight games from leader Hanwha. In the seventh inning with a 5-4 lead, Cho Byung-hyun took the mound as the third pitcher.

Byung-hyun Cho faced Lee Ju-hyung on first. After a single by Lee, Byung-hyun threw a 143-kilometer per hour fastball to Dawson, who flied out to shortstop. He then induced a ground ball to Kim Hye-sung with a fastball. The play at first base was neat, starting with a quick dash to the bag by first baseman Ko Myung-joon.

The first batter of the eighth inning was Choi Joo-hwan, who had four hits in the previous at-bat, including a leadoff double. However, Choi got Choi Ju-hwan to ground out to first base and struck out Kim Hwi-jip on six pitches. Lee Hyung-jong also got out of the inning with a two-pitch strikeout to left field.

With momentum on their side, SSG capitalized on an error with runners on first and second in the bottom of the eighth, with Park Sung-han and Choi Jung hitting 먹튀검증 back-to-back RBI singles to make it 8-5.

Cho Byung-hyun drew the bases loaded with a heavy fastball that reached a maximum of 148 kilometers. In total, he threw 21 pitches (16 fastballs, four curves, and one fork) for two shutout innings.

After the game, SSG head coach Lee Sung-yong commented, “Today, the players were united in their desire to win, and we were able to come from behind to end a three-game losing streak. (Oh) Won-seok pitched five innings and our trusted bullpen kept us scoreless, which was the cornerstone of our victory.”

“(Go) Hyo-joon and (Moon) Seung-won also pitched well. At the plate, the table-setters Ji-hoon and Sung-i showed their veteran strength, with Jeong and Ji-young recording three hits apiece and Yoo Seom-yi hitting a solo shot. It was a great start to the week and we will be well-prepared for another good performance tomorrow.”

“I had him pitch two innings in a big game and he pitched really well. I know this is his first win in his debut, so I want to congratulate him.”

Cho Byung-hyun was drafted by SK (now SSG) with the 28th pick in the third round of the second round of the 2021 rookie draft after graduating from Onyang Oncheon High School, Onyang Middle School, and Se-ad. After playing three games in 2021, he first resolved his military service through the Armed Forces Sports Unit (Sangmu). At the urging of head coach Park Chi-wang, he stepped up to the plate and earned his first professional first-team win four years after his debut.

“I thought it would take me about five years, including the military, to get my first win, but it came sooner than I expected,” said Cho Byung-hyun after the match. The ball for my first professional win was taken care of by (Cho) Hyung-woo. My seniors and brothers hit and scored runs for me, and I’m grateful for their support.”

After being discharged from the military, Cho Byung-hyun, who earned the Korean flag at the 2023 Asian Professional Baseball Championship (APBC), has been gradually expanding his position as a must-win pitcher this season. “I think about throwing without regret no matter what situation I’m in. The manager and coach like to have a quick confrontation rather than a strikeout, so I try to do that,” he said.

With a 0.96 ERA in seven games, Cho has entered the sub-zero range, making him a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year early in the season. His handsome face, which resembles his father’s, has earned him the nickname “Literature Cha Eun-woo” from fans.

“It feels good to be called Mr. Cha Eun-woo. I think the fans look at me well,” he smiles shyly, adding, “On the mound, I throw with the intention of beating the batter. My goal this season is 20 holds. I want to pitch in a lot of games where the team wins and accumulate as many holds as possible. I want to focus on helping the team win one game at a time rather than being the rookie of the year.”

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