Whenever it’s important, ‘Pungpung’… Lotte ‘What would I have done without Noh Jin-hyuk’

Before the 2023 season, Lotte recruited Nakdong River rival NC shortstop No Jin-hyuk through the free agent market (FA). His contract period was 4 years, and the total amount reached 5 billion won. It was a decision to strengthen Lotte’s weak position, shortstop. Expectations were high that a stable infield could be built with Noh Jin-hyeok, who has solid defense, as a ‘mistake at a critical moment’ can determine the outcome of a game in defense.

Lotte’s Noh Jin-hyeok looks at the batted ball after hitting a two-run home run in the 10th inning of overtime against Hanwha at Daejeon Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park on the 16th. Courtesy of Lotte Giants

Noh Jin-hyeok is leading Lotte’s rise not only with a stable defense but also with ‘a shot that bursts at an important moment’.

Noh Jin-hyeok gave Lotte a thrilling come-from-behind victory by hitting a dramatic two-run home run in the 10th inning against Hanwha at Daejeon Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park on the 16th. In the 10th inning of overtime with a score of 1-1, Noh Jin-hyeok beat Hanwha finisher Jae-min Kang two-seam in the 10th inning, and fired a two-run gun that went over the right wall. With this home run, Lotte won 3 consecutive wins and won their 20th win (11th loss) of the season. In addition, Lotte took the lead again on the same day, overtaking SSG, who was caught by NC.

Noh Jin-hyeok is saving the team in crisis by hitting one shot at critical moments in every game. In the last attack in the 10th inning against Doosan, 6-6 on the 11th, Noh Jin-hyeok called first base runner Jack Rex home with a double that split left center, and eventually won a thrilling come-from-behind victory. On the 21st of last month, in the Nakdonggang Derby with NC, Noh Jin-hyeok scored a double in the 9th inning when he was trailing 1-2, then stepped on the home plate to tie the score 2-2. On the 18th of last month, against KIA, he scored 5 RBIs and presented victory to the team, showing one shot at every important moment.

This season, Noh Jin-hyeok is playing a significant role with a batting average of 0.278, 2 home runs and 18 RBIs. Noh Jin-hyeok laughed, saying, “I am playing with a comfortable mind,” and “I think I get good results every time I do that.”

Lotte, which has risen to the top of the league with a thrilling come-from-behind victory, faces Hanwha on the 17th at Daejeon Hanwha Life Insurance Eagles Park. Hanwha put Ricardo Sanchez as the starter. Lotte’s ace, Na Kyun-an, will step in.

Reporter Jeong Pil-jae [email protected]

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