NC catcher Ahn Joong-yeol contributed to the team’s victory with his hot bat.
Ahn Jung-yeol started in the No. 9 spot against LG at Jamsil Stadium on Feb. 2. Coach Kang Myung-hyun chose Ahn and Chang-mo to form a battery because of their good chemistry.
However, Koo Chang-mo threw five pitches in the first inning and left the game voluntarily due to discomfort in his left forearm. Ahn Joong-yeol pitched well with reliever Choi Sung-young, and he also had a thrilling at-bat.
안전놀이터 Ahn was out at second base in the second inning on a grounder to the third baseman. In the bottom of the fifth inning, trailing 0-1, he struck out against Kim Yun-sik.
Leading off the seventh inning with a 2-1 lead, Ahn Jung-yeol pulled a four-pitch fastball off LG bullpener Kim Jin-sung for a solo home run over the left field fence. It was the first home run in an NC uniform for Ahn, who came to NC from Lotte last winter as compensation for free agent Noh Jin-hyuk (Lotte). NC took a 3-1 lead.
Ahn hadn’t had a single hit in May since his two-hit performance against KIA on April 27. He hasn’t seen much playing time as a backup catcher, but has gone 0-for-14 in nine games. Today’s home run was his first in 36 days. The fact that it was a home run made it even better.
In the eighth inning, with runners on first and third, Ahn hit a single up the middle off Jung Woo-young for two RBIs and a 6-2 lead. It was a wedge hit. With the game down to four runs, Jung Woo-young was ejected. LG raised the white flag.
“In the batting lineup, Ahn Jung-yeol’s two hits, one home run and three RBIs were crucial,” said Kang Myung-hyun after the game.
Ahn Jung-yeol also did a good job defending the home plate. In the bottom of the seventh inning with a 3-1 lead, LG rallied. Austin’s double, Moon Bo-kyung’s single, and Oh Ji-hwan’s single made it 3-2, and the tying run was on third base.
Shortstop Kim Joo-won caught Kim Min-sung’s grounder and threw home, and catcher Ahn Jung-yeol tagged out the runner at third base who dived for home. The tying run was thrown out, preserving the one-run lead.
After the game, Ahn Joong-yeol said, “(The home run) came when I saw a ball I liked and turned it confidently, and it turned out well. (Koo) Chang-mo was injured early on, and (Choi) Sung-young did a good job in his place, and I’m happy that I’ve earned it after a long time. She prepared well for the situation with her pitches and I think she did a good job,” said Choi.
“Backup players are often called up at the last minute, so I would like to thank the coaches for helping me prepare well,” he said.