Kia Tigers infielder Park Chan-ho swung for the fences with a special bat.

Park Chan-ho started at shortstop in the ninth spot in the lineup against the Samsung Lions of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League at Gwangju Kia Champions Field on Wednesday, going 3-for-3 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored to help the Tigers win 3-2 and extend their winning streak to six games.

Park led off the third inning with a solo shot to left field off Won Tae-in, crossed the plate, and returned to the dugout with a bat handed to him by Choi Won-jun. After being congratulated by his teammates, Park kissed the bat and looked toward the first base dugout.

After hitting his second home run of the season in his first at-bat, Park hit a single to right-center field in the top of the fourth inning to put runners on first and second. The next batter, Choi Won-jun, stole second base on a throwing error by the pitcher and scored on an infield single by Na Sung-bum, which was followed by a throwing error by Choi Hyung-woo to give the team a 3-2 lead. He completed his three-hit performance with a leadoff single in the eighth inning.

Park Chan-ho had three hits on the day, but it was his opponents who were most grateful. Ryu Ji-hyuk, who came to Gwangju for the first time in a Samsung uniform after being traded on May 5, was presented with a bat before the game on May 12.안전놀이터

Park Chan-ho, who had his first three-hit game in about two months on May 17 against Kiwoom with Ryu’s bat, said through the club after the game, “Ji-hyuk asked for a bat from his brother, so I hit with it and got a good hit. I hope Ji-hyuk will do well at Samsung without any injuries. Ji-hyuk thanked his brother and sent him a greeting message expressing his affection for him.”

Ryu Ji-hyuk also received a gift on this day. Ryu stepped up to the plate as an opposing player in front of the Gwangju fans for the first time on the 12th after the first game was canceled on the 11th. In the top of the second inning, Ryu led off with a single and bowed three times to the third base line, the back of the catcher’s box, and first base. KIA played the old KIA cheer for Ryu Ji-hyuk, and the fans sang the cheer one last time.

Ryu Ji-hyuk, who came to KIA from Dusan in June 2020 in a trade for Hong Gun-hee, has been well integrated into the team for three years. He has earned the trust of the seniors by playing the role of a “middle leader” who can sometimes be bitter with the juniors but can also lead the team. Coach Kim Jong-guk even said, “Ryu Ji-hyuk has a lot of feelings for me, so it would be strange to meet him in a game.”

So on the 11th, the KIA players made time for him. Ryu Ji-hyuk came to Champions Field and greeted the players in the clubhouse, while Kia coach Kim Jong-guk gave him a bouquet of flowers and the players gave him a jersey signed by all of them. The jersey will be framed and presented to Ryu later.

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