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Young infielder not fazed by postseason spotlight

All Headlines 18:08 October 22, 2018

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) -- Pressure? What pressure?

That's the kind of mindset that Song Sung-mun, a 22-year-old infielder for the Nexen Heroes, is taking to every game in his first Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) postseason.

And it has shown on the field. After sitting out the Heroes' wild card game, Song has batted 3-for-5 in two games against the Hanwha Eagles in the best-of-five first round -- both of them victories for the Heroes.

In Game 1 last Friday, Song delivered a pinch-hit single to drive in the Heroes' third run for a 3-2 victory. The second baseman got a start in Game 2 the following day and responded by going 2-for-4 with a walk. The Heroes won that game 7-5.

Song Sung-mun of the Nexen Heroes celebrates his pinch-hit, RBI single against the Hanwha Eagles in the top of the seventh inning of Game 2 of the Korea Baseball Organization's first-round postseason series at Hanwha Life Eagles Park in Daejeon, 160 kilometers south of Seoul, on Oct. 19, 2018. (Yonhap)

Before Game 3 at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Song said he's not been nervous at all because he's surrounded by other young players also getting their first taste of October baseball.

"We have so many young guys here, and we're all having fun," Song said. "If I had been the only young guy among veterans, this would have seemed more daunting."

For Song, who didn't even break camp with the Heroes in March and toiled in the minors until May, every postseason game or even plate appearance is a bonus.

"I am just grateful for the opportunity to play," said Song, who batted .313 in 78 games, both career highs, during the regular season. "The more I played, the more confident I became. And even in my pinch-hit at-bat (last Friday), I was pretty confident. I knew getting a hit off the bench is difficult, but I trusted my swing."

On the field, Song said it helps to be flanked by a couple of All-Stars. His double play partner is Kim Ha-seong, a hard-hitting shortstop with improving defense, and he throws to first baseman Park Byung-ho, a two-time MVP and one-time big leaguer with the Minnesota Twins.

"Just having these veterans by my side is really helpful, and whenever I do well, they get just as excited as I am," Song said. "I used to get nervous throwing to Byung-ho, but he's great at digging out short throws."

Song seems to have the inside track on second base over 19-year-old Kim Hye-seong, who started Game 1 and who's considered the better defender of the two. Song said he sees Kim not as a rival but another teammate to lean on.

"He's a great defensive player, and I think we can complement each other," Song said. "It's been fun just talking to him about our postseason experience."

jeeho@yna.co.kr
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