Taiwan drop game to Japanese attack

HEARTBREAK::Taiwan went ahead twice against their stronger opponents, but failed to finish off the game when it mattered most and they lost in extra innings

BY PAUL HUANG  /  Contributing Reporter

Sat, Mar 09, 2013 - Page 1

Taiwan proved no match for Japan by dropping a disheartening 4-3 decision in extra innings in Pool 1 of the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic to the hosts at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, last night.

One strike away from winning the game, closer Chen Hung-wen (陳鴻文) gave up a game-tying single to Japan’s Hirokazu Ibata that made it 3-3 in the top of the ninth. This set up Japan’s go-ahead run in the top of the tenth when Ryoji Aikawa led off the inning with a single off Chen and scored three batters later on Sho Nakata’s sacrifice fly to left off Taiwanese reliever Lin Yi-hao (林羿豪).

That made all the difference in the game as Taiwan attempted to rally in the tenth with singles by Kao Chih-kang (高志綱) and Chang Chien-ming (張建銘) off Toshiya Sugiuchi to put runners on first and second against the Japanese reliever before Chen Yung-chi (陳鏞基) bounced a grounder to short for what ended up being a double play to end the game.

Failure to put the game away when it mattered most ultimately cost Taiwan the game as they coughed up the lead on two different occasions: the first a two-run advantage that was squandered in the eighth, and the second coming in the ninth.

Taiwan got on the board first on a bases-loaded walk that Chou Szu-chi (周思齊) drew off Japanese starter Atsushi Nohmi in the bottom of the third for a 1-0 lead. They doubled the advantage in the fifth when Lin Che-hsuan (林哲瑄) doubled to right with one out and scored on Peng “Chia Chia” Cheng-min’s (彭政閔) RBI single to left that made it 2-0.

However, the hosts tied the game in the eighth with a pair of runs on the strength of RBI singles by Shinnosuke Abe and Hayato Sakamoto that made it 2-all.

Taiwan managed to take a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eighth when Chou Szu-chi’s (周思齊) clutch single off Japanese reliever Masahiro Tanaka scored the runner from third to make it 3-2, setting the stage for Japan’s game-turning ninth.

Picking up the win for the hosts was Makita, while the loss went to Chen Hung-wen.