The Sinon Bulls clinched the third and final playoff spot with a 9-3 win over the Brother Elephants in Sinjhuang on Friday night, joining the La New Bears and the President Lions for a chance to win the coveted Taiwan Series title in the upcoming postseason.
It will be the third-straight postseason appearance for the Bulls as they enter this year's playoffs in a quest for a "threepeat" having won back-to-back Taiwan Series over the past two seasons.
Friday night's contest began with the Elephants jumping to a quick 2-0 lead against Bulls starter Yang Jien-fu on an RBI single by outfielder Chen "the Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan following shortstop Chen Rei-cheng's one-run double in the top of the first.
The Elephants' lead would last less than two innings as the Bulls answered with a run in the top of the second on outfielder Lin Chung-nan's run-scoring single off Elephants starter Eddy Candelario before striking for four more runs in the third off the Dominican right-hander on the strength of two singles, a double, and a pair of walks issued by a wild Candelario to claim a 5-2 advantage.
Neither team could score over the next four frames against the solid pitching of both starters until the Bulls went on another offensive surge in the eighth by batting around the order in a four-run spurt that chased Candelario to make it 9-2.
The Elephants would score a meaningless run in the bottom of the eighth on a solo home run by rookie sensation Chen Guan-ren off reliever Yu Wen-pin to end all the scoring on the day.
Winning his 13th of the season was Yang, who shook off a shaky two-run first to pitch 5-2/3 innings of shutout ball on an eight-hit effort to beat Candelario, who suffered his first loss of the year to end the season with a 4-1 record.
Bears 5, Whales 1
The Chinatrust Whales' bid for their tenth consecutive victory fell a few runs short on Thursday night when the league-leading Bears toppled them in a 5-1 decision at Kaohsiung to snap the Whales' winning streak.
A win by the Whales would have set a new club record for their longest-ever winning streak, but no one can fault them for an amazing late-season run that made the Whales the only team other than the Bears to have a winning record in the second half (25-20-4) despite having been eliminated from the playoffs for over two weeks.
Three second-inning runs by the Bears put the marine mammals in an early hole that they never managed to climb out off as Bears starter Hsu Wen-hsiung held them to only one run on five hits in 6-2/3 innings of play before setup man Huang Jung-chung and closer Ramon Morel combined for 2-1/3 of hitless relief to secure the win for Hsu.
Offensively for the Bears, after a sluggish six-game skid that saw the league's most potent attack drop its run production from over six per game to just a tad over two per game, the bats finally awoke for five runs on Thursday, thanks to three combined RBIs by outfielders Huang Long-yi and Tseng Hao-jui, who had three hits apiece on the night.
Taking the loss for the Whales was starter Kao Jien-san who lasted less than two innings for allowing the Bears' first three runs in the game on six hits.