Sat, Mar 27, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Lions roar back into CPBL contention

BASEBALL STARS A poor start has been forgotten now that the President Lions have won five of their last seven games to jump to No. 3 in the CPBL standings

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

After starting the season with a dismal 1-4 record, the President Lions have roared back with an impressive 5-1-1 mark in their past seven contests to take sole position of the third-place spot in the latest league standings.

Behind the strong pitching of starters Manny Aybar, Todd Rizzo, Tsao Hung-yang (曹竣揚) and Pan Wei-luen (潘威倫), the Lions have held the opposition to less than three runs a game, which made the job for ace closer Michael Garcia a lot easier in their 5-1-1 run.

The Lions have not won on sound pitching alone, as the offense has cranked out an average of 5.7 runs per game over the past seven games, nearly doubling their opponents' run production of 3.0 over the same time span.

"Anytime you can come up with key hits like they [the Lions] have done, it makes them really hard to beat," Elephants starter Jonathan Hurst said.

The opportunistic Lions offense has been able to score 5.7 runs on just 9.7 hits per contest, an outstanding run-to-hit ratio.

Skipper Hsieh Chang-hehn's (謝長亨) decision to trade for shortstop Yang Seng (陽森) seems to be paying big dividends in the early going, as the former Rookie-of-the-Year winner in the Taiwan Major League has blossomed into a formidable offensive threat with a .306 average and a team-high eight RBI's.

Hsieh's decision to move former leadoff man Huang Kang-lin (黃甘霖) one spot back in the lineup also appears to have been a good one as Huang has maintained a .311 batting average with seven RBI's in his new role.

The Lions have split the first two games of the four-game series against the Sinon Bulls this week, with Games 3 and 4 scheduled in Hualien for tonight and tomorrow night.

The Sinon Bulls started the week with a bang against the Lions by amassing an impressive 7-4 win in Hsinchuang on Tuesday night.

Starter Tsai Chung-nan (蔡仲南) silenced his critics on his return from injury with a brilliant showing off the mound.

The right-hander worked two outs into the eighth inning before the bullpen took over. He then allowed three runs on four hits, while fanning seven Lions for the win.

Lions centerfielder Huang Kang-lin took Bulls starter Osvaldo Martinez deep in the third for a three-run blast to give the Lions an early 3-0 lead in Game 2 of the series on Wednesday night.

The Lions would strike again in the seventh on second baseman Wang Tsu-song's (王子菘) solo homer off Martinez, before Huang Kang-lin's run-scoring single ultimately chased Martinez.

The final score of 8-2 made a winner out of Lions starter Pan Wei-luen and put Martinez at 1-2 for the year.

The Macoto Cobras' bid to extend their winning streak to a record-high seven games fell short on Wednesday night, as they suffered an embarrassing 1-8 defeat at the hands of the Brother Elephants.

Chen "the Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan (陳致遠) put the Elephants on the board with a first-inning solo homer off Cobra starter Lin Ying-jeh (林英傑).

The high-flying Cobras would return the favor in the bottom of the first on cleanup man Willis Otanez's RBI single to shallow left.

The 2-1 Elephant lead would hold until the top of the seventh, when Chen Chih-yuan drove the 2-2 offering from Cobra reliever Carlos Montane to deep center for a bases-clearing double.

The four-run deficit proved too much for the Cobras to overcome as they went home losers for the first time in seven games.

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