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(2nd LD) Nexen's Seo Geon-chang becomes first S. Korean player to get 200 hits in one season

2014/10/17 22:50

SEOUL, Oct. 17 (Yonhap) -- Seo Geon-chang of the Nexen Heroes became the first player in South Korean pro baseball history to record 200 hits in a single season on Friday.

Seo got his milestone hit with a double off Chae Byung-yong of the SK Wyverns in their Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) season finale at Mokdong Stadium in Seoul, the Heroes' home.

Last week, Seo broke the KBO's single season record of 196 hits, set by Lee Jong-beom of the then Haitai Tigers in 1994.

Lee got his 196 hits in 124 games. Seo played in every one of the Heroes' 128 games this year.

Seo Geon-chang of the Nexen Heroes runs toward first base after getting his 200th hit of the season on Friday in Seoul on Oct. 17, 2014. (Yonhap) Seo Geon-chang of the Nexen Heroes runs toward first base after getting his 200th hit of the season on Friday in Seoul on Oct. 17, 2014. (Yonhap)

Seo hit another double in the eighth inning and finished the season with 201 hits and a 23-game hitting streak. He's had at least two hits in 15 of those 23 games.

Seo went 2-for-4 in this game to clinch his first batting title at .369. He also led the KBO with 135 runs scored, the most ever in one season and ended in second in steals with 48.

The KBO teams play 128 games each, compared to 162 in Major League Baseball and 144 in Japan's Nippon Professional Baseball.

This year in the big leagues, only Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros (225) and Michael Brantley of the Cleveland Indians (200) had at least 200 hits. In Japan, Tetsuto Yamada of the Yakult Swallows had 193 hits to lead the NPB, but no other player had more than 190.

This year, Seo, the 2012 Rookie of the Year, tied the record for the fewest games to reach 100 hits, doing so in 64 games, and got to 150 in 99 games.

After the game, Seo thanked his coaches for helping him set the record, saying he couldn't have accomplished his feat alone.

"Every one of the 201 hits means the same to me, but I think the 200th hit carried extra significance because it was a huge relief to get it out of the way," Seo said. "I honestly thought it'd be impossible to get 200 hits, and that actually helped me stay relaxed. I lost some sleep last night, but once I came to the stadium, I was able to stay calm."

   Seo said the magnitude of his accomplishment didn't hit him right away.

"I was still a bit numb after getting the 200th hit," he added. "I felt like a huge weight has been lifted off me."

   The speedy Seo had only four bunt singles and 17 infield hits this year. He had 41 doubles and a league-record 17 triples along with seven home runs. He went hitless in 21 games out of 128 this year and only once was without a hit in two straight games.

Also on Friday, Nexen shortstop Kang Jung-ho hit his 40th home run of the season in the first inning. He's the first shortstop ever with at least 40 homers in one season, and the seventh South Korean player to reach that plateau.

Park Byung-ho, another Nexen slugger, finished the season with 52 long balls. Park and Kang are only the second pair of teammates to hit 40 or more home runs in the same season, after Lee Seung-yuop (54) and Bubba Smith (40) for the Samsung Lions in 1999.

jeeho@yna.co.kr

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