Failure to produce the clutch hits necessary by going a combined 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position cost Taiwan Game Four at the Olympics with a 0-1 final to Cuba.
It was Taiwan’s second straight loss by one run after Friday’s game against China.
The game at Wukesong Baseball Field yesterday dealt the team its third straight defeat since the 5-0 win over the Netherlands on opening day for a dismal 1-3 record, all but eliminating Taiwan from advancing to the medals round.
The poor outing by Taiwan’s offense wasted an otherwise brilliant performance by starter Lee Chen-chang, who took a one-hit shutout into the seventh before giving up a solo home run to Cuba’s Frederich Cepeda in what ended up being the game-winning run.
Lee struck out seven over six-and-two-thirds innings of play, retiring eleven in a row over one stretch against the defending champs to keep his club in the game.
Equally outstanding for Cuba on the mound was starter Elier Sanchez, who hurled seven scoreless frames on a three-hit effort before fellow reliever Norberto Gonzalez registered a near-perfect eighth and ninth to keep the shutout victory intact.
Taiwan’s offense struggled with two of its regular starters out of the lineup. Shih Chih-wei’s 1-for-4 effort represented the lone hit in a 1-for-10 batting for the supposedly top three hitters on the team.
Despite the unfavorable outcome, the game was a morale booster for Taiwan in light of its first-ever loss to China in an international competition the previous day and as it was missing top hitters Chang Tai-shan and Chen Chin-feng. Chang is out for the remainder of the competition after testing positive in a routine drug test and Chen is out for at least two games following an injury.
No games are scheduled for today as all eight squads take a break from four straight days of grueling competition. Next up for Taiwan in the seven-game preliminary round will be South Korea in a must-win game tomorrow if Taiwan wants to avoid a possible last-place finish.
The game is scheduled for 11:30am with Game-One winner Chen Wei-yin as the probable starter.