Lotte escaped its fourth straight loss after a long struggle. Lotte was able to smile broadly after a long time as it won the game against NC 꽁머니지급 6-3 at Sajik Stadium on the 2nd. It was also a close game, so the final player of the game was Kim Won-joong (30).
Kim Won-joong took the mound in the top of the ninth inning and caught leadoff hitter Kwon Hee-dong with a grounder to third base in two pitches, and Park Kun-woo hit a right-handed hit, but threw a 149km fastball to Jason Martin and struck out.
Kim Won-joong, who achieved his 18th save of the season, made a new history of Lotte by marking his 95th save in his career. It is Lotte’s new record for the most saves in his career. Previously, Son Seung-rak recorded 94 saves at Lotte, but Kim Won-joong surpassed this. Son Seung-rak is one of the league’s leading finishers with 271 saves in his career and won 94 saves while playing for Lotte between 2016 and 2019.
Kim Won-joong, who decorated a page of Lotte’s history, said, “I didn’t know until the game started and ended. “I’m deeply moved,” he said, “I think my head became white for a moment. He also said, “I passed by thinking, ‘I’ve recorded so many saves.”
Kim Won-joong takes over Son Seung-rak’s baton and plays as Lotte’s finishing pitcher. He must have felt strange because he exceeded the record left by Son Seung-rak. Kim Won-joong said, “It’s an honor just to be compared to a really great senior, and I think I feel more of a desire to become a player who can keep winning more steadily in the future.”
Now, if Kim Won-joong adds five saves, he will be the first Lotte pitcher to reach a milestone of 100 saves in his career. Lotte still has 56 games left. He is expected to be the main character of the milestone within this season. Recently, Koo Seung-min was hit by a “waterfall” from his teammates as he became the main character of Lotte’s first 100 holds, but if Kim Won-joong also achieves 100 saves soon, his teammates are unlikely to stay still. Kim Won-joong also smiled, saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I got hit by water once without expecting it?”
When Kim Won-joong joined Lotte in 2012, few expected him to be a closer representing Lotte. His 95 saves have a special meaning as he has turned into a finishing pitcher since 2020. “Honestly, I didn’t even know I would come this far,” said Kim Won-joong, “It seems too arrogant to say that I want to make a few saves in the future. “I will do my best to build up one by one,” he said.