“well. I haven’t done anything. “I think the team is holding up well simply because of the players.”
This was Coach Kang In-kwon’s reply with his characteristic cheeky smile to a reporter’s private comment around last June that the head coach seemed to play a large role in the NC Dinos’ success.
Director Kang In-kwon, observed from the side, is basically the owner of soft leadership. Outside of games and training, he could often be seen joking around with players.
However, things are different when it comes to baseball. We will never tolerate insincerity in training or game attitude. No matter how star a player he is, he does not allow himself to deviate from the ‘one team’ mentality and brings the players together with his unique and powerful charisma.
Manager Kang, who made his professional debut at the Hanwha Eagles in 1995 and worked as a catcher through the Doosan Bears until 2006, is spending his first year as an ‘official manager’ this season. He began his leadership career as Doosan’s second-team battery coach in 2007, and took over NC as an acting coach during the first half of last year, and compiled a good report card of 35 wins, 1 draw, and 25 losses (winning percentage of 0.583) in the second half of the year.
Coach Kang In-kwon, who was recognized for these abilities and was given the ‘acting manager’ tag, is leading NC’s upward trend again this season with his unique leadership.
There was also a crisis. NC, which was considered a strong candidate for last place as Yang Eui-ji (Doosan), Noh Jin-hyuk (Lotte Giants), and Won Jong-hyun (Kiwoom Heroes) left through free agency before the opening, suffered from injuries to key players even during the season.
However, Director Kang was not frustrated. Regardless, he strengthened the team based on his unique ‘outside the inside’ leadership. As the command tower did not waver, the players also improved to the next level, and as a result, NC ranked 4th with 75 wins, 2 draws, and 67 losses, returning to the postseason stage for the first time in three years since 2020 (the combined championship at the time).
NC’s upward trend, led by coach Kang In-kwon, continues even as fall baseball begins. They suffered two consecutive losses at the end of the regular season, and super ace Eric Peddy (20 wins, 6 losses, 209 strikeouts, ERA 2.00) was not in a good mood as he was injured in the arm after being hit by a batted ball, but he was a wild card with one win thanks to his advantage in fourth place. In the first game of the deciding match (best of 2), they defeated 5th place Doosan with a score of 14-9 and won a semi-playoff ticket in one game.
In particular, in this game, Seo Ho-cheol (3 hits in 4 at-bats, 1 home run, 6 RBIs) and Kim Joo-won (2 hits in 4 at-bats, 2 RBIs), who grew thanks to Manager Kang’s trust, performed well. Kim Hyeong-jun (2 hits in 5 at-bats, 2 home runs, 4 RBIs), who was selected by the head coach instead of veteran catcher Park Se-hyuk, also showed a great presence.
In the semi-playoffs (best of 5 games) against 3rd place SSG Landers, Coach Kang In-kwon’s perseverance shone. A representative example is the rebound of Lee Yong-chan, who suffered from a slump from the end of the regular season. He was not good, with 2 saves and an ERA of 13.50 in 3 postseason games (3.1 innings) before the third game of the semi-playoffs.
However, coach Kang In-kwon’s faith was firm. He said several times, “Our team’s closer is Lee Yong-chan,” and Lee Yong-chan repaid the trust by pitching well in the third game of the semi-playoffs, pitching no hits, striking out two, and allowing no runs in one inning.
Mercenary skills are also being recognized through this fall baseball season. While it was still difficult for Peddy to appear in the semi-playoffs due to the aftermath of injury, manager Kang In-kwon selected right-hander Shin Min-hyuk, who had a regular league record of 5 wins, 5 losses, and an average ERA of 3.98, as the starting pitcher for the first game.
Although he was evaluated as having less weight than opposing starting pitcher Roenis Elias (8 wins, 6 losses, ERA 3.70), Shin Min-hyuk laughed at this and contributed to NC’s 4-3 victory with a 5.2 innings pitched with 4 hits, 1 walk, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts, and no runs. .
Moreover, in the top of the 8th inning, when both teams were tied 0-0, with one out and one on first base, manager Kang In-kwon chose Kim Seong-wook as a pinch hitter. Kim Seong-wook immediately became the protagonist of the game-winning shot, firing a two-pointer that went over the left-center wall.
Thanks to the strong presence of the head coach, NC defeated SSG with a 3-0 series record and advanced to the playoffs. Above all, what is more encouraging to them is that coach Kang In-kwon is growing further through the fall baseball season. Coach Kang said, “It seems like we are accumulating experience (through the postseason). “He has tried (fall baseball) both as a player and as a coach, and he seems to be broadening his horizons a little while managing the game (as a manager),” he said.
Now, coach Kang In-kwon and NC are aiming for an upset (a lower-ranked team beating a higher-ranked team and advancing to the next series) once again against coach Lee Kang-cheol’s KT Wiz, which ranked second in the regular league. They are evaluated as being inferior in objective power, but looking at the anti-war dramas they have written so far, the possibility seems quite high.토토사이트
Coach Kang In-kwon said, “I think the players will be physically and mentally fatigued. He pledged to do well, saying, “Thank goodness we got some rest time (without a single loss in the postseason), so we will take the time to recharge and prepare well for the playoffs against KT.”