Mon, Oct 16, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Lions gain stranglehold on playoffs


The President Lions' Hsu Feng-pin, left, runs toward home base as Sinon Bulls catcher Yeh Chun-chang attempts to tag him out in the bottom of the ninth inning in Tainan on Saturday evening. The Lions won 1-0.


Yang Song-hsuen's pinch-hit sacrifice fly off Kuo Yong-chih in the bottom of the ninth broke a scoreless tie as the President Lions edged the Sinon Bulls by a 1-0 margin to win Game 2 of 2006 Playoff Series in Tainan on Saturday night.

Three of the first four Lions hitters reached base safely on singles off the Bulls' top closer to load up the bases in the bottom of the ninth. It was a night in which the pitchers held sway until Yang's game-clinching swing delivered the knockout punch against the defending champs.

The victory gives the Lions a commanding 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five playoffs, and they are now just one win away from the 2006 Taiwan Series where the La New Bears, the regular-season champs, await.

Outstanding efforts by both starters put zeros on the board through the first eight innings of play, with the Lions' Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen holding the Bulls to only three singles and his counterpart, Yang Jien-fu, allowing two base hits in a classic pitchers' duel.

But in the end, it was "Du Du" who had the last laugh against longtime friend and respected rival Yang with a complete-game shutout in his first career postseason victory.

The Bulls did have one excellent scoring opportunity in the top of the ninth against "Du Du" when Chang "Red Monkey" Jia-hao lined a single up the middle and took second on a defensive error by the Lions.

But he was gunned down at the plate by Lions right-fielder Pan Wu-hsiung on a sharp single by Yu Hsien-ming when he tried to test the rookie outfielder's arm by attempting to score from second.

The cannon shot by Pan Wu-hsiung beat Chang Jia-hao to the plate by a mile, denying the Bulls a chance to score the go-ahead run in their only legitimate scoring opportunity in the game.

"We knew we had to take a chance in a close game like today's because a run is really hard to come by," Sinon manager Liu Rong-hua said in the post game press conference referring to his decision to send Chang Jia-hao all the way from second.

"We wanted to test [Pan's] throwing ability in a crucial situation like that and the rookie came up big," Liu added.

Pan is experiencing a rich vein of form as it was his two-run homer in Game 1 that secured the victory for the Lions on Friday night.

Taking the loss for the Bulls was Kuo, who might have cost his club the series.

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