Fri, Jul 30, 2004 - Page 24 News List

Taiwan team returns to Little League World Series

AP , SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, PENNSYLVANIA

Taiwan is back in the Little League World Series, seven years after pulling out of the tournament because of player eligibility questions.

Shou Tien of Kaohsiung beat Japan's Sendai Higashi 7-5 on Wednesday to win the Asia Region championship and qualify for the Little League World Series.

Saipan from the Northern Mariana Islands beat Indonesia's Jakarta Little League 4-3 to win the Pacific Region title.

The last time a team from Taiwan made it to the series was 1996, when a team from Kaohsuing beat Cranston, Rhode Island, Western 13-5 for the championship.

In April 1997, Taiwan withdrew from Little League, saying it couldn't guarantee compliance with Little League's eligibility requirements.

Taiwan, which won 17 titles in 21 world series appearances, returned last year but was beaten in the regional tournament.

"We're happy to see [Taiwan] back in the Little League World Series," Little League spokesman Lance Van Auken said.

"It's been eight years or so, so we're looking forward to it.

From a crowd standpoint, when the teams from Taiwan have been here in the past, they've brought a lot of fans in from the New York City area. Of course we like it when the stands are full, and the kids do, too."

Taiwan's dominance raised suspicions of cheating.

Fans booed in 1973 when Tainan cruised through the Little League World Series, winning its three games by a combined score of 57-0, including a 12-0 rout of Tucson, Arizona, in the title game. In 1974, Little League excluded all foreign teams for one year, saying that Taiwan and some other teams were training out of season.

Shou Tien and Saipan join teams from Guadeloupe, Mexico, and Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles in this year's series. Four more international participants and eight US teams have yet to be determined.

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