“The nine numbers were all because of you, Son Ah-seop.”

Hanwha Eagles slugger Noh Shi-hwan broke through the “nine-hitter” that had plagued him and reached the 30-homer plateau for the first time in his professional career. It was a nutritious blow that helped the team end its eight-game losing streak.

Starting at third base and batting third in the 12th game of the 2023 Shinhan Bank SOL KBO League against the LG Twins at Jamsil Baseball Stadium in Seoul, South Korea, Noh went 2-for-4 with a double, a home run, two RBIs and a run scored to help Hanwha win 5-3.

Noh Si-hwan swung the bat hard from his first at-bat. He got things off to a good start with a double to left-center off LG left-hander Young-gun Kim Yoon-sik.

Noh got his first taste of excitement in the top of the sixth inning, when Hanwha took a 1-0 lead. He hit a two-run home run over the left-center field fence against right-hander Yoo Young-chan. It made the score 3-0 and gave him 30 home runs in his first season as a professional in 2019.

Noh hadn’t hit a home run in his last seven games since hitting his 29th of the season against the KT Wiz on May 19. His batting has been slumping as his stamina has declined.

His impatience to reach 30 homers could have gotten out of hand, but he hit a home run to help the team escape the losing streak and take the rest of the season with a light heart. He also widened the gap between himself and SSG’s Choi Jung (24 home runs), the league’s second-leading home run hitter, to six, giving him momentum in his quest for his first home run title.

“My batting hasn’t been good lately, so I made some changes to my center shift, and it worked out well,” Noh said after the game. “I wasn’t particularly conscious of the number nine, but when people kept talking about it, I really thought, ‘Is there a number nine?'” he laughed.

“Before I hit my home run in the top of the sixth inning, Heo Kwan-ho told me that the fact that I was trying not to think about the nine is itself a ritual,” he said. “He told me to just go ahead and be conscious of the nine. He told me to try to hit with the mindset that I had to hit one more, and I did hit a home run. Thank you, Heo Kwan-ho,” he said, sharing an interesting backstory.

In his first year as a professional, Noh hit one home run in 2019, 12 home runs in 2020, and 18 home runs in 2021. He had some growing pains last year with six home runs, but this year he completely broke out of his prospect shell.

“I want to hit more home runs until the end because the season is not over,” Noh said, “I want to be a hitter who can hit 30 home runs every season consistently in the future.”

He also shared a joke about his close senior NC Dinos player Son Asub. On the day Noh hit his 29th home run, Son teased his younger brother by sending him a text message saying, “You’re going to be in the ninth inning now.”스포츠토토

Son and Noh share a strong sense of camaraderie despite the 12-year age gap between them. Although they play for different teams, Son is known for taking care of his hometown juniors.

Noh said, “He made my nine days longer. I wasn’t even thinking about it, but he kept poking fun at me by texting me, saying, ‘You’re in your nineties,'” and “He contacted me every day when I didn’t hit a home run. Now that I’ve hit 30 home runs, I’ll send him a video link,” which made the dugout burst into laughter.

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