Inability to come up with the clutch hits dealt Taiwan its second straight loss at the 2005 Baseball World Cup competition as it fell to Japan in a 7-1 decision on Wednesday (local time) in Almere, the Netherlands.
Only one of the nine hits that the Taiwanese hitters collected off five different Japanese pitchers managed to knock home a run to prevent Taiwan from being shut out by Japan in a match where Taiwan actually out hit its opponent by a 9-to-8 margin.
The game began with Japan striking first in the top of the fourth when second baseman Daisuke Kusano took Taiwanese starter Keng Po-hsuan deep for a solo home run and a quick 1-0 lead.
PHOTO: WORLD CUP BASEBALL
Taiwan would promptly respond with a run of its own in the bottom of the same inning on third baseman Chen Chiang-ho's RBI single off Japanese reliever Hideto Isomura.
After a scoreless fifth, Japan took a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth on a run-scoring defensive error by Taiwanese center-fielder Kuo Chun-yu that could have ended the inning without any damage.
Instead, the Japanese made Taiwan pay with a two-run sixth that eventually turned into a 7-1 win.
Reliever Isomura picked up the win for Japan with three innings of one-run ball, while his Taiwanese counterpart Huang Yi-che suffered the loss for allowing the game-winner in the decisive sixth.
Offensively for Japan, the heart of the order had a huge day, accounting for all but one of the seven runs that the Japanese scored.
First baseman Yu Tsung-han's 3-for-4 night highlighted an unproductive Taiwan attack that produced only one run on the nine hits.
Puerto Rico 6, Taiwan 4
A three-run seventh inning by Puerto Rico helped complete a comeback rally for a 6-4 win over Taiwan in Eindhoven on Tuesday.
The Taiwanese were down 1-0 after two innings when Puerto Rican slugger Jose Leon doubled in the first run of the game off Taiwanese starter Cheng Chi-hung.
After Taiwan countered with a run in the third on second baseman Chen Yung-chi's solo homer off starter Ivan Maldonado, Puerto Rico regained the lead by scoring a run in the fourth and fifth on third baseman Edward Guzman's solo blast and right fielder Edgar Velazquez's sacrifice fly.
It took a three-run home run from outfielder Kuo Chun-yu to put Taiwan back on top 4-3 in the bottom of the sixth before the Puerto Ricans rallied again with their own version of a three-run inning to take the lead for good.
Edgar Velazquez's two-run shot off game-loser Chen Hung-wen with two outs capped the Puerto Rican half of the seventh that included a leadoff single and a run-scoring double.
Set-up man Pedro Diaz's two innings of shaky relief (allowing three unearned runs on two hits) was good enough for the win, with closer Felix Villegas picking up the save for retiring the side in order in the final two innings of the contest.
Taiwan 10, Czech Republic 1
Taiwan 12, Spain 2
Taiwan enjoyed an excellent start in the first two contests of the tournament with back-to-back, high-scoring wins over weaker Czech Republic and Spanish teams (10-1 last Saturday and 12-2 on Monday, respectively).
The top of the order, consisting of leadoff man Chen Yung-chi, outfielder Chan Chih-yao, shortstop Hu Chin-lung, and cleanup man Lo Guo-hui, batted a combined 21-for-39 with 11 RBIs to provide plenty of run support for starters Tsai Ying-feng (against the Czech Republic) and Tseng Sung-wei.
About the World Cup
The biennial tournament hosts the world's top amateur baseball talent with 18 teams from six continents. This year's games began on Sept. 2 with the 13-3 trouncing of China by Holland. The championship game is scheduled for Sept. 17.
The top four finishers from each of the two groups in the round-robin preliminaries will compete in the double-elimination quarterfinals.
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