Taiwan’s national baseball team defeated Australia 5-1 yesterday in Japan at the Premier 12 championship, a qualifying event for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
In their last game of the six-team Super Round, Taiwan connected on seven hits to Australia’s five, as Taiwan pitcher Hu Chih-wei dominated the opposition, allowing only three hits in five innings.
Taiwan were the first on the scoreboard — to cheers from Taiwanese and Japanese fans in the Tokyo Dome — when Wang Wei-chen hit an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the third, before Australia pulled off a double play to end the inning.
With Taiwan relief pitcher Lin Kai-wei on the mound in the sixth inning, Australia’s Logan Wade converted a fast ball into a homer that went deep into center field for the equalizer.
With first and third bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth, Wang tapped another RBI single into right field to give Taiwan a 2-1 lead.
Before the end of the inning, Lin Che-hsuan raised the stakes for Australia’s dugout with a home run deep into left field, extending the lead to 5-1.
Lin Che-hsuan, who played for the Boston Red Sox in 2012, said he just focused on hitting the ball with all his might, which helped him knock it out of the park in the eighth inning.
Australia tried, but could not catch up in the ninth — and the game ended in victory for Taiwan.
Although Taiwan’s performance in the Premier 12 did not secure them a berth in the Tokyo Olympics, Lin said he believes that the team might still qualify next year, when they have another chance at the Olympic final qualifying tournament in Taichung from April 1 to 5.
“I want to thank our supporters and my family, because I think it is a great honor to represent Taiwan and I hope to wear the uniform again,” Lin Che-hsuan said.
Japan (3-1) and South Korea (3-1) are vying for the top spot in the Premier 12 tournament. Mexico (3-2) are in third, while the US (2-3) sit fourth and Taiwan (2-3) — competing as “Chinese Taipei” — sit fifth on the table. Australia (1-4) are at the bottom.
Today, defending champions South Korea face Japan in the championship finals, while the US play Mexico for third.
Sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation, the Premier 12 features the top 12 teams from the confederation’s world rankings for last season.
Next year, baseball is returning to the Olympics for the first time since 2008.
Taiwan finished in ninth place in the inaugural Premier 12, failing to advance to the quarter-finals after finishing with a 2-3 record in Group A.
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