Tue, Nov 16, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Sinon Bulls go all the way

TAIWAN SERIES CHAMPS The Bulls won their first league championship in a series that featured strong pitching versus big hitting

By Paul Huang  /  CONTRIBUTING REPORTER

The Sinon Bulls celebrate their Chinese Professional Baseball League championship after their 8-6 win over the President Lions in Game 7 of the 2004 Taiwan Series in Tainan on Sunday night.

PHOTO: CPBL

Chang "Red Monkey" Jia-hao's (張家浩) two-run liner off President Lions' reliever Donald Lemon to shallow-right in the top of the ninth inning broke a 6-6 tie to give the Sinon Bulls an 8-6 lead, their third lead of the game, and one that they would hold on to for good to clinch the 2004 Taiwan Series title Tainan on Sunday.

The five-year veteran who is known for more his stellar defense in the outfield than for his offense made the Lions pay for underestimating his hitting ability after intentionally walking the batter before him. Chang delivered the clutch hit that gave the Bulls their first ever Chinese Professional Baseball League title.

"It's not the number of hits that matters -- it's when you can deliver the key hit," Chang, the unanimous choice for the game-MVP honor, said after the game.

"I was given the opportunity to be the MAN and I'm glad I was equal to the task."

After winning the first two games of the series, the Bulls lost three straight to the Lions before taking Game 6 in a 3-2 thriller to force the decisive Game 7.

As if that was not exciting enough, the seesaw battle in the title game featured three lead changes before the sold-out crowd witnessed the crowning of the new league champions.

The game started with the Bulls jumping to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first on shortstop Cheng Jau-han's (鄭兆行) run-scoring single to left and a fielding error by the Lions' shortstop Yang Seng (陽森), which scored the runner from second base.

Then came the big cats who scored four times in the next two innings, capped by rookie slugger Kao Guo-ching's (高國慶) three-run homer to take a 4-2 lead.

Pinch hitter Tseng Hua-wei (曾華偉) drew a bases-loaded walk in the top of the fifth for the Bulls against a wild Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen (潘威倫) to cut the Lions' lead to 4-3, before another fielding error by Yang Seng on the ensuing play would score two more runs for the Bulls in a four-run fifth inning to reclaim the lead at 6-4.

The Lions fought back with a pair of runs in the bottom of the fifth on center fielder Huang Kang-lin's (黃甘霖) RBI single and pinch hitter Tseng Yang-chih's (曾揚志) sacrifice fly to deep-center to force a 6-6 tie before the Bulls' late-game magic would ultimately seal the victory.

As in last year's league championship series against the Brother Elephants, Bulls ace righty Yang Jien-fu (陽建福) found himself the last person standing on the mound in the final game of the season -- only this time, he walked off as the game winner instead of the pitcher who had surrendered the series-clinching hit to help the Elephants win their third straight title.

Yang was credited with the Game 7 victory for his two innings of scoreless relief work.

From his game-saving strikeout in the last game of the regular season that put the Bulls into the championship series to his three-hit effort over seven strong innings in the series-opening win, his determined start in Game 4 on a three-day rest, his 1-2/3 innings of gutsy relief pitching in Game 6 (despite suffering from a bruised left knee), and ultimately the victory in Game 7, the selfless second-year standout answered nearly every challenge he encountered for the well-deserved Most Valuable Player honor for the series.

"The victory says it all," Yang said after he was presented with the series-MVP trophy. "No matter how hurt and tired I was, I wanted to win so badly I would do whatever it took to win."

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