Regular-season play in the Chinese Professional Baseball League came to an end on Tuesday night with the Macoto Cobras' 7-3 triumph over the Brother Elephants in Luodong.
Even though the season finale for both clubs carried no bearing as far as their playoff hopes were concerned, both having been eliminated from postseason action heading into the contest, the twelfth win for Cobras starter Chang Hsien-chih and slugger Hsieh "the Ugly" Jia-shien's multi-homer game still put a big smile on skipper Wu Fu-lien's face to close out a tough season in which the Cobras missed the playoffs by a game in the final standings.
The first of Hsieh's two homers in the game, a two-run blast to deep-right off Elephants starter Liu Jung-nan in the bottom of third, broke a scoreless tie as the serpents jumped to a 2-0 lead.
After the Elephants answered with a run in the top of the fourth on an RBI single by Kuo Yi-fong to make it 2-1, the teams would trade a pair of runs over the next inning with Kao Wei and Yang Rei-chih knocking in a run apiece for the Cobras in the bottom of the fourth for the Cobras and Chen "the Golden Warrior" Chih-yuan taking Chang deep for a two-run home run for the Elephants in the top of the fifth to trail the Cobras by a run in a 4-3 game.
That was all the runs that the Elephants scored in the game as Chang worked a perfect sixth before setup man Robert Averett chipped in two innings of shutout relief in the seventh and eighth and Yang Chi-jia and Lin "the Little Chick" En-yu combining for a scoreless ninth to end the game.
Following Chen's two-run shot that cut the Cobras lead to one, the hosts would add some insurance in a three-run sixth on Wang Chuan-jia's sacrifice fly to right and Hsieh's second two-run homer (off reliever Wang Jing-li) to claim a 7-3 cushion.
Cobras starter Chang was credited with his twelfth win to top all rookies hurlers this season for allowing three runs on seven hits over six effective innings, beating Liu of the Elephants who served up six runs on ten hits over 5-1/3 frames to drop his 13th of the year.
Offensively for the serpents, Hsieh's 2-for-4 night with a season-high four RBIs led an attack that rang up 14 hits off three different Elephants pitchers.
Kuo Ming-ren and Chen Keh-fang also collected three hits each.
The Presidents Lions will host the Sinon Bulls in first-round action of the playoffs with Games 1 through 3 of the 2006 Playoff Series scheduled in Tainan on Friday, Saturday and Sunday respectively.
Game times are 6:35 pm except for Sunday, which starts at 5:05pm.
Games 4 and 5 (if required) of the series will be played in the Bulls' home field in Taichung on Tuesday and Wednesday with the winners will advance into the Taiwan Series to take on the Bears.