Author: Damien Mendieta (Senior Writer)
After two high schools, three colleges and a semester off, Scott Hong (junior) has finally found a place at Occidental.
Hong, a transfer from Glendale Community College, has been a key offensive contributor to the baseball team. His .366 batting average compares to that of junior Pedro Aldape (.415 batting average) as they regularly share the third and fourth slots in the Tigers’ batting lineup.
A struggling bullpen has also benefited from Hong’s arrival, as he has earned a team-high four saves.
Hong proved his worth in the recent three game sweep of the defending SCIAC champion, Redlands. He crushed a homer as the Tigers broke away from the Bulldogs in game one and scored the walk-off run in game two at home against Redlands and preserved the lead in game three.
A native of Los Angeles, Hong began playing baseball at the age of 13 in a Pony League in West L.A. Soon after, he played three years for University High School under Head Coach Alex Kocol. “He was probably one of the biggest people helping me throughout baseball,” Hong said. “He took me under his wing [and] taught me whatever he could about baseball.”
Hong asserted that the game has been a key factor in his development as a player and as a person.
“I have a passion for baseball; the competitive spirit is something that brings together so many different aspects about the mind, the body,” Hong said. “Throughout my entire life it’s really impacted me in a positive way I think, as far as the way you deal with situations and the way you deal with failure. Baseball’s been an excellent teacher for stuff like that.”
Hong expressed the balance that exists between baseball and academics.
“I just love baseball and even with school you get to go back to baseball and do something you love,” Hong said. “I think that’s a great outlet for me.”
Hong’s high school career foreshadowed his future college successes. He garnered First-Team All-Western League Pitcher honors as a Wildcat.
In 2009 he played an essential role in OCC’s California state championship run, and in 2010 he earned Pre-Season All-American honors.
He believes these successes have been a joint product of hard work and ideal mentorship. “I think it’s a humbling experience because I knew how much I couldn’t do before,” Hong said. “I think in my entire career I’ve had so many good people in my life, without them I don’t think I would be here.”
Although initially wary of joining a team with a 13-26 overall record, Hong was surprised with standouts on the team, citing ace Tyler Eyrick (3.53 ERA), batters Logan Allen (.371 batting average) and Pedro Aldape as support.
“I really think I made the right decision to come here, it feels natural, it feels like home,” Hong said.
Despite the team’s previous record of 13-26, Hong praised the current Tigers roster for its offensive and defensive might. “As far as the team, we have great players all throughout the lineup,” Hong said. “Our pitching staff has really turned out to be one of our strong points when our hitting hasn’t come through.”
Hong said he hopes to develop his years of experience in a leadership role for the team.
“As one of the older guys on the team, I think I bring a little bit of leadership, a little bit of game knowledge, just with the years that I’ve played at so many different places,” Hong said. “If anything, just try to lead by example.”
Beyond his Occidental experience, Hong also hopes to one day attend medical school with the intention of being an orthopedic surgeon. Although he would be delighted to reach Major League Baseball, he is focused on becoming a doctor.
After transferring to his third college, Hong also wants to focus on his academic endeavors at Occidental.
“First of all, I’ve been in college way too long,” Hong said. “I want to finish school.”
Hong also has goals for the years he has left at Occidental.
“As a Tiger I really want to do the best I can, really help the team out,” Hong said. “I want a conference title, as least one year here and make it to playoffs.”
Hong continues to approach the game with motivation and emphasizes the importance of competing.
“I love winning; winning is definitely why I play and being competitive is all exciting, but at the end of the day you play to win,” Hong said.
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