Lee Kun-yeol (60), a former Tigers star, led the team to the top once again in seven years. He turned the ball to his students who did their best even with a small number of people, and expected steady interest in college baseball to continue.

Dongguk University tied for the 메이저놀이터 championship with Korea University after the 78th National University Baseball Championship final, which was scheduled to be held at Hongcheon Baseball Stadium in Gangwon-do on the 11th, was canceled due to rain. It is the first time that Dongguk University has won a national championship since the 71st National University Baseball Championship in 2016.
a win with only 20 players
Coach Lee Kun-yeol said in a phone call with Star News, “The final was also an opportunity for the players to show their skills, but it’s too bad that it couldn’t be held,” adding, “Other teams have 23 to 24 players, but we played with 20 players.” “I’m grateful to the players for working so hard that I can’t help but cry,” he said.

In this tournament, Dongguk University took 22 players, unlike other teams with 50 to 60 players if there are many baseball teams. Excluding the injured, less than 20 players were selected, making it even more valuable because it was a first-team victory. In five games since the 1st, both pitching and hitting have performed evenly with a 1.03 ERA and a 0.324 batting average.

Director Lee said, “It’s hard to praise just one thing. He deserves all the praise, but he was impressed to see the players who didn’t play in the game throw the ball and help him both materially and emotionally. This year, the team’s power is weak, so even to the players, “This year, you are weaker than other teams.” So let’s try harder,’ but I think I was stimulated. “I have a lot to be thankful for,” he said with a smile.

Some college teams play only 12 games in a year
Founded in 1946, Dongguk University’s baseball team has had its second heyday since the early 1980s when former national team coach Kim In-sik (76) took over in 2013. Coach Lee, who graduated from Gunsan Commercial High School and Dongkuk University, played only in Haitai (currently KIA) for 12 years from 1986 to 1997, and played as a member of the “Tiger’s Dynasty.” After being appointed as the coach of Dongguk University, he has won nine championships so far, enhancing the school’s reputation.

However, despite the remarkable achievements, he expressed regret over the dwindling interest in college baseball. Coach Lee said, “In the past, an official told me, ‘What’s the point of winning. There’s not a line in the newspaper,’ he once said. I was so heartbroken at that time,” he lamented.

The typical disappointment is the number of games and poor stadium infrastructure. Unlike the high school stage, which has seven national tournaments such as the Golden Lion, Blue Dragon, Presidential Cup, Bonghwangdaegi, and Shinsegae E-Mart Cup, there are only three tournaments in college baseball, including the College Baseball Championship, Presidential Cup, and KUSF College Baseball U-League King. Some schools do not play during the presidential period, so if they fail to advance to the King of Kings, the year will end with only 12 games (11 league games, the first round of the National University Baseball Championship).

Coach Lee Kun-yeol said, “College baseball games are 11 league games, two tournament tournaments, and the King of Kings.” We won and played a few more games, but for some teams, 12 games is the end of a year. Social baseball also plays 20 to 30 games a year, so I wonder if this is why it can be called elite sports,” he said. When the number of games increases, only players who play 12 games will have to participate in lower-grade games and improve their skills. I don’t understand this part well,” he lamented.
“College baseball players are mature and desperate”
Although the number of games is small, professional team scouts visit college baseball games with a sense of duty. This is to see the development of players who were unfortunately not nominated in high school, and to find hidden gemstones at the same time. About 30 people, including 10 KBO clubs and major league scouts, visited Hongcheon Baseball Stadium in this tournament. However, when the Cheongnyonggi High School Baseball Tournament began, scouts stopped visiting.

Head coach Lee Kun-yeol said, “Hongcheon Baseball Stadium alone is the place where the finals were held, but there are no stands for scouts or school officials to sit and watch.” This is the reality that parents see in tents. “It’s a finals game, but it wasn’t properly promoted,” he said. “No scouts came as soon as the competition began in Seoul.” I’m sad about that, but I can’t help it. “Even if you come, there is no place to sit, but anyone will want to see you in a cool place like Mokdong Stadium,” he said.

They were concerned that the reality that college baseball is gradually losing its place would have an adverse effect on professional baseball. Coach Lee said, “I still think 30% of the applicants should be selected in the KBO rookie draft.” I wonder if the opportunity will be given to college players even if it’s their turn later. Some high school graduates succeed in the back order, but many quit after a year or two. “It’s a pity that the players study and find other careers when they go to college,” he said.

“There are many good players in college baseball, too. “I see a more mature and desperate (relatively) than high school students,” he said adding, “There should be a college baseball boom in a way that goes to professional or gets a job well, and if you don’t know me, I think it’ll be a big problem.”

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