Tue, Jun 15, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Cobras crush Elephants-again

DOWNTURN With the President Lions already having secured the title, the Elephants had nothing to defend but their pride, but the Cobras struck back

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Ecstatic President Lions players celebrate clinching the CPBL title on Thursday as their supporters cover the field in ribbons.

PHOTO: CPBL

Two straight ugly defeats at the hands of the Macoto Cobras ended the Brother Elephants' first half on a down note as the coaching staff looked to find some answers in a hurry for the defending champs. Already out of the title hunt with the crowning of the President Lions in Taichung last Thursday night, the second-placed Elephants had nothing but their pride to defend in the three-game series against the Cobras in the last weekend of competition for the first half.

The 6-2 decision in favor of the Elephants in Game 1 was dampened by the news that the Lions had clinched the first-half title with their 9-0 thrashing of the Sinon Bulls on Thursday.

A towering shot to deep left by leadoff man Chen Rei-cheng (陳瑞振) jumpstarted the Elephant offense as it built a 4-0 lead after five, highlighted by power hitter Chen "the Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan's (陳致遠) two-run, opposite-field blast off Cobra starter Kleber Ojima in the fifth.

Hsieh Jia-shien's (謝佳賢) ninth homerun of the year, a solo shot over the right field fence, was the only bright spot in a game that was otherwise dominated by the Elephants.

Game 2 of the series on Saturday was a foregone conclusion by the fifth inning as the serpents took no prisoners in building a 10-0 lead before the 11-3 final. Elephant starter Nakagomi Sin surrendered eight runs over four innings in his shortest outing of the season.

The Japanese veteran has allowed 15 runs (10 earned) in the past four games, including three losses in a row, after starting the season at 6-1.

Offensively for the Cobras, centerfielder Huang Kao-jung (黃高俊) reached base in all five plate appearances, scoring four times, both club-highs for the year.

Elephant ace Jonathan Hurst did not have his best stuff in Sunday's series finale as he blew the 4-1 lead in the fifth in allowing four Cobra runs.

The 37-year-old former Major Leaguer was denied his ninth victory of the season in the 4-5 loss as he settled for an 8-6 mark before this week's mid-season break. Hurst shares the lead for most wins (8) with Lion second-year man Pan Wei-luen (潘威倫) who is 8-5 thus far.

The La New Bears sent their departing skipper Ohda Takushi off with a pair of strong finishes against the Chinatrust Whales to close out the first half.

Ohda's resignation was finally accepted by the Bear officials after their futile attempt to convince the headman who nearly matched the team's total number of wins for last season (20) by the mid-season mark with 18, to reconsider his decision.

After losing the first two contests in the four-game series earlier last week, the Bears managed to hold off a feisty Whale rally to win Game 3 by a narrow 6-5 margin, thanks to pinch hitter Tsai Hung-tseh's (蔡泓澤) two-run single in the eighth that put his team up for good and closer Claudio Galva's valiant effort in a scoreless ninth.

A four-run ninth propelled the Bears to triumph in a dramatic 6-3, come-from-behind win on Saturday.

Consecutive triples by Bear pinch hitters Wang Jung-wen (王俊文) and Tsai Jien-wei (蔡建偉) were the difference in the game as Wang's liner to the left-center gap tied the game at 3-all and Tsai's bullet off the leftfield wall put the Bears on top for good.

Needing a tie or better to clinch their first first-half title in three years, the Lions easily accomplished the mission by bagging the title in a 9-0 total annihilation of the Bulls on Thursday.

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