Hitters had their way in Game 1 of the 2006 Playoff Series as the President Lions doubled up on the Sinon Bulls in an 8-4 home victory at Tainan on Friday night to kick off their postseason with a bang.
The expected pitchers' duel between Lions American lefty Jeriome Robertson and the Bulls' Alfredo Gonzalez of the Dominican Republic never lived up to its billing with the two teams pounding out a new playoffs record of five combined homers in the game; two by the Lions and three off the bats of the Bulls in a 22-hit slugfest.
The Bulls had ten of the 22 hits in the game, compared to the Lions' dozen, but the result was quite different as the Lions' superior hitting with men in scoring position (5-for-12 compared to the Bulls' 1-for-3) delivered the clutch hits necessary for them the come away with the win.
Tilson Brito's sharp liner off Gonzalez with two outs in the bottom of the first got the Lions on the board for a quick 1-0 lead before the defending champs answered with a run of their own in the top of the second, courtesy of the first of two solo homers in the game by Chang "Prince of the Forest" Tai-shan.
The 1-all tie lasted less than an inning as the Lions offense erupted for three more runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by Pan Wu-hsiung's two-run blast to deep-right off Gonzalez that not only gave the Lions a 4-1 lead, but also chased the Dominican hurler.
Back-to-back solo homers by Chang and Sinon first baseman Hsu Guo-long in the top of the fourth brought the Bulls to within a run of the Lions (4-3), only to see reliever Yu Wen-pin return the favor in the bottom of the same inning when he served up a two-run single to a red-hot Yang Seng after putting runners on second and third with a single, a walk, and a wild pitch in the inning.
The Bulls' failed to make a big inning out of the sixth by scoring what turned out to be their final run of the game despite connecting for three straight base hits off Robertson to start out the inning, thanks to a stellar effort by Lions setup man Lin Yueh-ping, who entered the game on minimal warm-up in relief of Robertson and promptly retired the side in order to strand a pair of runners.
Lin would end up pitching three no-hit innings from the sixth through the eighth to earn the game's MVP honor before Lions closer Tseng Yi-cheng tossed a scoreless ninth to preserve the win for Robertson, who allowed four runs on nine hits, including three homers over five innings of play.
Taking the loss was Gonzalez as the normally dependable right-hander lasted only two innings, surrendering four runs on five hits.
Offensively for the Lions, Yang and Brito each had three RBIs on a multi-hit night, capped by Brito's monstrous two-run blast off Sinon reliever Takekiyo Kouji in the bottom of the seventh that sealed the win for the hosts.
As for the hapless Bulls, not even three homers (all solo) could commensurate into a win, making their quest for a "threepeat" seem a bumpy one.