Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Team Taiwan plays warm-up games in Italy before Athens

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

Lack of offense continued to trouble Taiwan's national baseball team three games into a four-game exhibition series against Cuba, Italy, Canada, and the Netherlands, as the squad prepares for the Athens Olympics.

The warm-up sessions were played in Nettuno, a small town near Rome.

Team Taiwan only managed to collect two hits in its 4-0 loss to Cuba on Friday, despite a decent showing by a pitching staff that yielded four runs on seven hits.

Cuba is favored to win the gold medal in Athens later this month.

A lack of familiarity with the Cuban pitchers was the main reason that Team Taiwan had trouble against the "Red Storm," striking out 14 times under the hot summer sun in Nettuno.

Fortunately for Team Taiwan, starter Chuang Hung-liang (莊宏亮) was able to keep the opposing hitters in check over the 4-2/3 innings that he pitched.

Other than a misplaced fastball in the fourth that was smashed into the left-center bleachers for a two-run homer, Chuang seemed comfortable with the top amateur lineup in the world for the most part.

Reliever Chen Wei-yin (陳偉殷) was rattled by the mounting pressure in the seventh after allowing a leadoff single and a walk that would put runners on first and second with no outs.

The lefty prospect for Japan's Chunichi Dragons then misfired on a pick-off attempt that advanced both runners before surrendering a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch that scored the third and fourth run of the game for Team Cuba.

TAIWAN 2, ITALY 0

Faring slightly better at the plate, Team Taiwan managed to rip five hits off three Italian pitchers to bounce back in a 2-0 shutout win on Saturday.

Brother Elephants hitting tandem Chen Chih-yuan (陳致遠) and Peng Cheng-ming (彭政閔) led the way on offense with Chen collecting a pair singles and Peng knocking in Team Taiwan's second run of the game in the sixth with a liner to left.

Taiwan was 4-for-4 on stolen-base attempts, including a textbook version of the double steal that scored the game's first run in the bottom of the second.

Starter Du Chang-wei (杜章偉) was spectacular in one-hitting Italy over five frames before relievers Gheng Bo-hsuen (耿伯軒) followed with three more innings of one-hit ball and Lin Yueh-ping (林岳平) got the last three outs in the ninth to preserve the shutout.

NeTHERLANDS 5, TAIWAN 0

Eight issued walks embarrassed the Taiwan's pitchers in Sunday's contest against a feisty Dutch club that blanked Team Taiwan in a 5-0 decision.

Even though the hitters were able to pound off six hits on offense, none came with runners in scoring position.

Cleanup man Chen Ching-feng (陳金鋒) remained hitless in all 10 at-bats.

Reliever Lin Yueh-ping walked the first two batters in the fifth inning before giving up a blooper single to shallow right that sent both runners home to make it 3-0.

The Dutch scored two more runs against lefty reliever Lin Ying-jeh (林英傑) in the ninth.

Team Taiwan will take on Canada in the final game of the exhibition series today before it sets sail for Athens on tomorrow.

"Exhibition games help coaches make final ahead of the real thing," Hsu Sheng-ming (徐生明), head coach of Team Taiwan said.

Hsu will try to improve on Taiwan's silver-medal finish at the 1992 Barcelona Games.

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