Five straight pitches, 21, 19, 16, 24, 98. This is not a “good old baseball” story from the 20th century or the 1980s. This is the story of an 18-year-old youth national team ace pitcher in the 21st century, 2023.
The Korean National Youth Baseball Team, led by Lee Young-bok (Chungam-go), defeated the United States 4-0 in the bronze medal game at the World Youth Baseball Championship in Taipei, Taiwan, on Sept. 10.
Korea scored two runs in the first inning on a triple by Yeo Dong-gun and a squeeze bunt by Park Ji-hwan. Korea added to its lead in the fourth inning on an RBI single by Lee Sang-jun and an RBI triple by Lee Seung-min in the sixth.
Most importantly, Kim Taek-yeon pitched a complete game, striking out nine and walking one in 7.2 innings to earn the bronze medal along with Wan Bong-seung. In total, Kim pitched in six games at the tournament, going 2-0 with 16 innings pitched, 29 strikeouts, four walks, and a 0.88 ERA.
However, if you look at the process rather than the outcome, the youth national team can’t avoid the “five-game sweep” controversy.
Kim threw 54 pitches in relief against Chinese Taipei on Sept. 2 and took a day off, then threw 15 pitches in relief against Australia on Sept. 4.
After a day of rest on Sept. 5, Kim threw 21 pitches in relief against Puerto Rico on Sept. 6, but was unable to finish the game due to a rain delay. Kim took the mound for the resumption of the suspended game against Puerto Rico on the 7th and threw 19 pitches to finish the game.
Kim also pitched 16 pitches in relief of starter Hwang Jun-seo against the United States in the Super Round on Aug. 8. After three consecutive appearances, Kim threw 24 pitches in relief against the Netherlands in the Super Round on the 9th.
Following the four-game streak, her dream of a “five-game streak” became a reality. Kim took the mound for the bronze medal game against the United States and threw a total of 98 pitches through the seventh inning. He threw a total of 178 pitches in five days, an unrealistic feat in 21st century baseball.
Kim Taek-yeon’s pitching log for the Korean National Youth Baseball Team
Day 2 Taiwan 54 pitches
3 days off
Day 4 15 pitches against Australia
5 days off
6th Puerto Rico 21 pitches
Day 7 Puerto Rico (Suspended) 19 balls
8th USA vs 16
Day 10 98 pitches against USA
A total of 247 pitches were thrown over the nine days of the tournament.
Even in the KBO, where players have to wait until they reach adulthood to make their professional debut, it’s rare to see a five-game streak without a day off. The most recent pitcher to pitch five consecutive innings in the KBO was Shim Soo-chang of the Hanwha Eagles, a team led by former manager Kim Sung-geun (now the head coach of Choi Kang-baek) in 2016 (3 pitches in 0.1 innings against Doosan on the 17th, 21 pitches in 0.2 innings against LG Electronics on the 18th, 14 pitches in 1.1 innings against LG Electronics on the 19th, 40 pitches in 2.1 innings against KT on the 20th, and 10 pitches in 1.1 innings against KT on the 21st).
Kim Taek-yeon suffered a worse five-game stretch than Shim Soo-chang in 2016. He threw a whopping 98 pitches on the last day of the five-game series, which is more than a veteran professional pitcher who has been through the wringer. Even Doosan, which drafted Kim in the first round before the bronze medal game on September 10, was nervous about the final game of the youth national team. One Doosan official laughed bitterly, asking, “Is it really Kim Taek-yeon on the mound?”
Lee Young-bok and his coaching staff, who were in charge of running the national team’s games, are not immune from the controversy. The pitch count rest day rule, which is meant to protect the arms and shoulders of youth players, was cleverly utilized. The pitch count rest day rule set by the tournament headquarters was not created to encourage five consecutive pitches of 21 pitches, 19 pitches, 16 pitches, 24 pitches, and 98 pitches. The adults who are supposed to be protecting the future of Korean baseball were the ones who dictated the embarrassing five-pitch streak for the sake of a bronze medal.
While the atrocity and tragedy of the five-game series has already happened, baseball officials and fans should never forget September 10, 2023. In the past, pitchers who have faced controversy at the World Youth Baseball Championships have had their dreams dashed before they’ve even blossomed in the first team. The results of a 10-day international tournament don”t define the next 10 or 20 years of a young athlete”s life.토토사이트
While I want to congratulate all of the youth national team athletes for their hard work, this bronze medal performance and Kim’s five-game no-hitter should not be labeled as a “beautiful struggle”. Five consecutive games totaling 178 pitches with no rest days is clearly too much for an 18-year-old youth pitcher. Regardless of the future health of Kim Taek-yeon, we need to prevent another ‘five-game streak’ and its victims in the future. I would like to ask you here, Lee Young-bok, are you really happy to win a bronze medal like this?