Shih Chih-wei's walk-off single with the bases loaded scored the game-winning run in the bottom of the eleventh to lift the La New Bears past the President Lions by a 4-3 margin in Game 1 of the 2006 Taiwan Series on Saturday night.
The third-year infielder who led the team in total hits with 128 during the regular season (second in the league behind Sinon slugger Chang Tai-shan's 130) got a hold of a curve ball from top Lions closer Tseng Yi-cheng and slapped it over the left side of the Lions infield to give his club its first-ever postseason win.
"The coach told me to look for the slower stuff from him [Tseng] and that was exactly what I got, so I waited a little bit to avoid overswing it," MVP Shih said of his game-clinching hit.
The 11,000-plus fans on hand at the Kaohsiung County Baseball Stadium were treated to a classic seesaw battle in which the home Bears took a brief lead, lost it midway through the game and then scored three unanswered runs to come away with the victory in extra innings in the all-important series opener.
Chen Chin-fong's RBI double off Lions starter Pan "Du Du" Wei-luen in the bottom of the opening inning got the Bears on the board early, before the visitors fought back with Dominican slugger Tilson Brito's solo homer off Bears lefty Wu Si-yo in the top of the second to tie things up at 1-all.
The Lions slipped ahead by a deuce in the top of the third, when Kao Guo-ching lined a two-out single to shallow-left off Wu after the Bears had decided to walk Brito to get to the third-year first baseman.
That made it 3-1 in favor of the Lions.
A controversial foul ball call by leftfield line judge Chiang Hsuen-wei in the top of the fifth negated what would have been a two-run homer by Brito and led to a brief stoppage of play. Officials discussed the matter before upholding Chiang's call -- ?a decision that no-doubt turned the game as a two-run homer would have given the Lions a 5-1 lead.
Instead, the Bears brushed off the mid-game scare and countered with Huang Long-yi's two-run blast off Pan in the bottom of the fifth that tied the game at 3-3.
Neither offense was able to produce another run against the solid relief pitching of La New's Huang Jung-chung, Hsu Wen-hsiung and Ramon Morel, who combined for seven shutout innings in relief of Wu, and the Lions' Lin Yueh-ping, who extended his postseason scoreless streak to 17-and-two-third innings with three near-flawless frames against a potent Bears attack to send the game into extra innings.
Bears right-hander Hsu Chih-hua pitched a perfect eleventh inning for the win, beating Tseng after the top closer in the league (with 17 saves to his credit) issued a leadoff walk to Chen Chin-fong and gave up a single to Pan Chung-wei before intentionally walking the next batter to set the stage for Shih's late-game magic.
The Lions did have a couple of golden scoring opportunities after the fifth, with runners on second and third with no outs in the seventh inning and on first and second with no outs in the 10th.
But failure to come up with the clutch hit, coupled with several outstanding plays on the part of the Bears defense ultimately left the Lions empty-handed on both occasions.
Game 2 action was scheduled to take place yesterday afternoon in Douliou, with the Bears sending 16-game winner Kenny Rayborn of the US to take on fellow countryman Jeriome Robertson of the Lions.