The bottom of the third inning of the National Baseball Team’s first game of the day was full of questions. The players on the field and the media watching on the sidelines had no less trouble understanding the situation.
The Korean baseball team defeated Hong Kong 10-0 in eight innings in the first game of Group B at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games. The pitching staff from Won Tae-in to Jung Woo-young, Choi Ji-min, Jang Hyun-seok, and Park Young-hyun gave up just two hits and one walk in eight innings, but the game took nearly three hours to finish. The game was suspended for 20 minutes in the third inning due to an incomprehensible call by the umpires.
Here’s how it went down With no outs and runners on first and second, Kang Baek-ho hit a well-hit ball that was caught by the Hong Kong right fielder. Both Noh Si-hwan, the first baseman, and Choi Ji-hoon, the second baseman, made hasty judgment calls. Noh Si-hwan overtook Choi Ji-hoon at first base. Passing the runner in front of you is an automatic out for the runner behind you. In addition, Choi Ji-hoon’s throw home was late.
The triple should have been called. Kang Baek-ho was hit by a pitch, Noh Si-hwan was out on a fielder’s choice, and Choi Ji-hoon was forced out on a late throw. However, the umpires were in a quandary. They didn’t see Noh’s advance runner. Choi Ji-hoon’s throw to second base was deemed late, and he was called out at second base. A skit ensued in which the umpire instructed Choi to return to first base after being thrown out at second base. The benches of both teams came out to protest and the situation was resolved after a series of escalations. Choi Ji-hoon was out at second base and Noh Si-hwan was safe at first base. The game resumed with runners on second and first.
After the race, we asked Noh Si-hwan, a party to the incident, what happened. Noh admitted that he overtook Choi Ji-hoon, the runner ahead of him. “I was too focused on scoring runs,” he regretted. Earlier in the game, he had only scored one run because he hadn’t adjusted to the slower pitches of the Hong Kong pitchers. The need to score runs was too strong.
“I had already passed the runner and was out, but I don’t think the umpires realized it,” said Noh. “So the whole situation where I went back to first base was a bit puzzling. I still don’t quite understand it.”
The decision to send Choi to first base in the first place after he was declared out at second base is still a mystery. “(Choi) Ji-hoon said that his brother stepped on the base a little late,” said Noh Si-hwan. For now, the second out was correct. “I think Ji-hoon was a little confused because I was running straight ahead. Then I went to second base, but he said it was too late,” said Noh. In the end, what should have been a triple ended up being a double and a loss for Hong Kong.
Choi Ji-hoon gave the same explanation. “I panicked when I saw (Noh) Sihwan-i, so I couldn’t get to second base fast enough, so I was out,” he said. “But the umpire sent me back to first base, and Sihwan-i and (Kang) Baek-ho were out.” Choi said, “It was just a triple. It was, but they sent me to first base the wrong way. There was no communication, and I think the umpires just didn’t see it.”
National team manager Ryu Jung-il also said after the game, “If Kang Baek-ho’s hit was caught and not 안전놀이터 short, and if the second base force out was correct, then it’s a triple.” Ryu said, “I don’t think I saw him (Noh Si-hwan) from that side.”
The umpire’s inexperience prevented a triple, but it also cost him a base. “I was a little quick to judge the pitch. If I saw that it was a hit, it wouldn’t have happened, but I thought it was a hit, so that’s why it happened,” Ryu said, adding, “We need to make sure that we don’t have any more misses like that tomorrow.”