“I’m really proud of the players.”
Despite falling just short of the championship, Mulmungo’s passion and performance in the Blue Dragon Games was remarkable. To reach the final of its first national championship, the team pulled off a series of upsets, including a 10-point come-from-behind drama (in the round of 16) and a sweep of baseball’s prestigious Mungmungo. Although the team was denied the title by Kyungpook National University in the final, Mulgeongo revolutionized high school baseball with its ‘underdog rebellion’.
Coach Choi Geum-kang, who coached Mulmungo’s players, had a deep sense of regret in his voice. “It’s a shame they lost (the final) because they played really well,” Choi told us after the game. I’m very proud of them,” he said. “They’ve been training hard on a baseball field with no shade, and they’ve had a lot of hardships, but I feel like they’ve been rewarded a little bit in this tournament,” he said.
“I’m grateful and proud,” Choi said, listing the names of the players who worked hard. “Min-seo (Gong) did a great job by getting the most hits (12), Dong-hwi (Cho) did a great job on the mound despite being a freshman, Kang-hyun (Bae) was sagging for a while because of the pressure of being a freshman, but he did a great job in this tournament, Bo-han (Seo) did a great job even though I didn’t expect him to be this good, and Se-hyun (Park) gave us strength by playing despite the pain,” Choi said, thanking each one of them.
Every step of the way to the inaugural final was an emotional one for Choi. In the round of 16 against Masango, a team they hadn’t beaten in two years, they came back from a 10-point deficit to win their first game, and in the quarterfinals against powerhouse Chungam-go, they pounded out 14 hits against pitchers with mid-to-high 140km/h fastballs to reach the quarterfinals of their first national tournament. “We were lucky with the weather, but more importantly, the players’ enthusiasm and hard work helped us reach a higher level, and I am very grateful to them for giving us this experience,” said Coach Choi Geum-kang.
However, credit must also go to coach Choi Geum-kang, who guided the players to perform well, sometimes boosting their courage with warm words of encouragement, but also correcting their mentality with stinging words when necessary.
In the round of 16, when the team had come back from a 10-point deficit to take a one-run lead, 13-12, Coach Choi gave first-year player Choi Dong-hwi a warm word of encouragement as he took the mound. “You don’t have to get upset if you tie or lose. It’s the other team that’s in a hurry, and you just need to stay calm and throw your pitches.” As a result, Cho pitched five scoreless innings to secure the win for his team.
It was a different story for Seo Bo-han. After struggling in his Round of 16 start, giving up four runs in 2⅓ innings, Choi pushed him hard when he came back to the mound with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of the quarterfinals against Chungam Go. As he took the mound with the score tied at 7-7, Choi said, “It’s your responsibility (as a starter) that the team struggled against Masan High School. But your teammates won that game and tied the game today. If you have the responsibility of an ace, you have to throw like hell and stop them no matter what.” Seo Bo-han took the mound, and after overcoming a bases-loaded situation, he shut down the Kangho Chungam-go bats with 2⅓ innings of two-run ball to secure the team’s first-ever semifinal appearance. Coach Choi’s carrot and stick paid off.
Despite being a second-year coach, Choi guided her players like a seasoned pro. Choi said her experience as a player has helped her in her coaching career. Choi, who started his professional career as a founding member of the NC Dinos in 2012, played for nine years until 2021. In 2015, he served as a fill-in pitcher with 14 wins, and in 2016, he won 11 games and took the starting mound in the Korean Series. After leaving the team in the winter of 2021, Choi began her coaching career at Mulmungo the following year, where she used her extensive professional experience to guide the younger players and lead the team to the national finals.
“I relive a lot of my professional experiences while coaching the players,” says Choi. “I try to remember what Coach Choi Il-un did in this situation and what Coach Lee Jae-gyu said in that situation,” he said. He doesn’t just give instructions willy-nilly. Before the game, he explains to the pitchers why he’s giving them instructions and convinces them. “We talk a lot with the pitchers and catchers. I can’t say that it always works out, but fortunately, the players trust me,” Choi said. “I really enjoy coaching them and feel proud of them,” he added.
After tasting the heat of the national finals, Mulgeum-go will now turn its attention to the Bonghwangdae National High School Baseball Tournament in August. The team is also preparing to make history by representing Gyeongnam at the National Sports Games in October.카지노사이트
Coach Choi Geum-kang said, “At the Golden Lion in May, the players were very nervous and didn’t perform well, but they must have gained a lot of confidence from this tournament. We will prepare well and aim for higher heights at the Phoenix Games,” he said. “We are still not as complete as the other teams. But the players are working hard in a bad environment, so please support them a lot.”